We gave out four prizes during the course of the MATLAB Molecule contest. We've asked each of our winners to tell us a little more about themselves.
Grand Prize Winner: Paulo Uribe
"I was born in Salvador, Bahia, a city in Brazil. I came to the US as a high school student. When my family returned home, I was in my 2nd year of college majoring with a dual degree in electrical engineering and math from the University of Maryland. I decided to stay until I finished. It has been 14 years since that decision and I am still here.
"I have used MATLAB on and off through out my career since I was a grad student in electrical engineering. In my current job I am developing both hardware and software for a scientific instrument that will fly in a satellite next year. I use MATLAB to design and test DSP algorithms that will be executed by the embedded processors in the instrument. My interests are in signal processing and more specifically detection and estimation theory."
As for the contest, Paulo said
I would like to congratulate the MATLAB contest team for doing an excellent job. I have enjoyed all of the contests, even the ones I didn't participate in. For me, it is a fun way to refresh on old things I have forgotten and to learn new things from other contestants. -- Paulo Uribe
Early Bird Prize Winner: Yi Cao
Yi Cao is a university lecturer in the UK. His interests include math & computing. He has been using MATLAB for more than 10 years now, both for work and in his spare time. This is his second MATLAB contest... his first contest experience dates back to the days of the old offline version where contestants submitted their entries by email. Here are some of his thoughts on the most recent contest:
The Molecule Contest was the second MATLAB contest I had attended. But, it also was the first online contest I had experienced. I remember the first MATLAB contest I had was the MATLAB contest V3.0 in 1994 when I was a PhD student. The contest was organized through email. I was one of the winners of that contest as well. However, an online contest is much more enjoyable. During the week you really felt it was a CONTEST. I have learnt a lot from the contest, not only programming but also math and optimization algorithms. I am sure if we had one day more in the contest, the "hard nut" 7800 would have been broken. -- Yi Cao
One Day to Go Prize Winner: Stijn Helsen
You may recall that Stijn won our previous MATLAB programming competition, the Mastermind® Contest, held last fall. This time around he won a prize for submitting the best entry on the next-to-last day of the Molecule Contest. Stijn is from Belgium and is currently an engineer working on the control of CVT's (continuous variable transmission) for passenger cars. He uses MATLAB a lot in his work, especially for doing calculations on measurements, visualizations and simulations.
As a child, Stijn's interest in technology began with programmable calculators and later computers. Stijn writes in his email to us "I knew that I could be so obsessed that I didn't want a job that had only to do with computers. I was scared becoming a 100% computer-freak. So I still try to keep always in mind that there exist other things in life then computers. Apart from periods like the last two MATLAB contests, I think I manage to do this reasonably well being reminded by looking to my four young children, and seeing the work we have here in our old farm. The message after the last Mastermind contest that the next time a weekend was going to be included was not a 100% good message. Five days was already a lot (not especially for me but for the rest of the family). A weekend where papa is usually at home and available with a contest is hard. In fact it was not too bad this last contest. We had some visitors for a weekend, and I managed to spend a lot of time with them. But my mind was not always together with my body."
Here are some thoughts from Stijn regarding his contest strategy:
During the contests I'm always fighting between two things to do. Looking to what's happening by others and trying to be on top. This is mostly a short-term activity. Or working out ideas which need more work. This is a more long-term activity. On the one hand this last activity can be good for doing big steps. It can work out bad, so that you have nothing at the end. And it is also nice just to do the small steps and be in the game. Of course you don't choose completely between the two, but doing both (with the two halves of your brain doing multiprocessing?) is not easy (with that one eye spotting to the browser). Because of the more exciting part of looking and improving the code to be on top, I easily let myself be seduced to do especially this short-term activity. But doing this I gave me a feeling of guiltiness that I should work on smarter things. Therefore I found it funny to see the submission WishToBeTop of Yi Cao. -- Stijn Helsen
Highest Score Prize Winner: Bert Jagers
Bert Jagers is from Enshede, The Netherlands. He studied both applied mathematics (major in system and control theory) and physics (major in low temperature physics) at the University of Twente. His final project addressed the inverse problem of detecting and localizing areas of brain activity from MEG (magneto-encephalogram) data.
After graduating in 1989 he switched to the field of civil engineering where he started his PhD study on planform changes in braided rivers at the University of Twente in cooperation with Delft Hydraulics. In the course of his work, he used neural networks, cellular automata and PDE based numerical models while extending his knowledge of MATLAB, using it for general pre and post-processing.
Bert currently works for Delft Hydraulics (http://www.wldelft.nl) where he is a working expert in the field of 2D/3D numerical modeling of hydrodynamics and morphology. Building on the tools written during his PhD study he has developed a MATLAB interface for the data files for the 3D simulation system Delft3D. This toolbox is now used by customers all over the world. About the contest, Bert says:
Every time a MATLAB contest is held, I try to participate. Especially during the initial phase of the contests it is great to compare the various approaches and to introduce new ideas. -- Bert Jagers