2010-11-21

Project Organisation

So I just wrote a post below on my AI project's code framework and here are some additional thoughts on general project organisation.

My group sends files back and forth in e-mail. It's awful. I was using a broken version of some of our own software for half a week because I was using the latest thing I received in e-mail. Also, we always run the danger of using old results. Yikes.

Things that would have been good:

  • Using a file repository, like git, so we could access the latest results and code
  • Having a group web page where my group mates could download the last generated results or start a new generation run. That is, one canonical place to access them from.
  • A group task list.
  • Blah

I suddenly grow tired of writing and will take a nap.

Frameworks for Science

My AI project uses software from different places on different platforms to do different things. Briefly,

  • software to calculate measures of entropy: JE, MI, an VI. Written in Java by a group mate.
  • software to split our datasets into 5 folds. Written in C# by another group mate.
  • software to generate association rules for our dataset. A binary provided by Christian Borgelt.
  • software to measure the performance (accuracy, precision, recall) of the class association rules. Written in C# by a group mate.
  • Excel to look at the data.

Most of those have GUIs that my group originally intended on using. Because I hate wasting time and using the mouse, I've since created a BASH script framework to automate it all.

Our Framework

First I went to each piece of software we owned and modified it to work in a headless manner. Instead of giving input through the GUI, we do it through command-line arguments. Instead of displaying the output in the GUI, it outputs it to a file or to stdout (to be piped into a file). For Borgelt's apriori software, there is a command-line binary already, so we figured out the parametres it would want to match the GUI we had planned to use.

Then, I wrote multiple small scripts, each handling one task, and then chained them together, so we can go from a single directory with CSV datasets, to generating entropy, generating rules, selecting only the rules we want, testing their classification ability, doing feature selection on the original datasets across over a dozen different proposed entropy thresholds, generating rules on those featured selected sets (over a dozen for each dataset and measure combination), and then testing classification performance for those reduced feature sets.

Then there's a script that averages and batches together all the performance results across those combinations of dataset-measure-threshold-fold (5 data sets x 3 measures x 16 thresholds (just checked) x 5 folds = 1200 records) and creates a single 240 record spreadsheet reporting fields dataset, measure, threshold, avg. accuracy, avg. precision, avg. recall, and time to generate the rules.

It completes the first four datasets in around ½ an hour. The fifth one is larger and takes a few hours, so I usually start working with the results from the first four first. :D

AI Project and the Evils of Group Work

Believe me, I understand the value in working in groups in school. You really learn how to work alongside others and how to handle all the added complexity and planning, and you might even make friends. I know there's much more to it than that, too. But regardless, I have sincerely disdained every group project I have yet to work on and wish to avoid doing it ever again.

Our project looks at the use of entropy in feature selection. Each of the group members has been flaky at one point or another. However, with our final paper due on Tuesday, one of our group members has not communicated since we last talked on Thursday in class, and also failed to do almost any of her work for the presentation the week before.

This means I'm going to lose the rest of my time until Tuesday to compensating for that. I have another class which has a project due in mid-December which I haven't started, and for which I have yet to submit my project proposal(!) despite it being almost three weeks late! This is ridiculous! And I just don't have the time to fix it. Back to toiling away in the misery that is group work.

2010-11-18

First Semester

I feel like I've not been getting everything I should have out of this semester. It started well enough, but things have kind of fallen apart. A late assignment. Uninspiring group work. Missed trains. I'm trying to salvage it, and it stands to reason that some rescue should be possible, but it does affect my enthusiasm, feeling as though I'm missing out on a great opportunity for education.

I've been too tired to concentrate during or have plain missed too many of my Natural Language Processing courses. It's partly the consequence of having to take a 4:45AM train there, and getting back to London late on Tuesday night to begin with. It's hard to get to sleep before going to class, so sometimes I try to stay up or just sleep a little, and I end up sleeping through, or arriving sleep deprived. It's awful. And this is otherwise one of my favourite courses in my University career, and the last few lectures are just foggy in my mind.

I don't work well in groups. At least not in school. I have worked well in groups outside of school a lot. I've worked well in groups outside of Computer Science, too! There's too much conflict and unbalanced interest. I'm tired of fighting it, so now I just try to flow and make sure things stay on track. That doesn't work out well either.

I am complaining today, but I hope the last couple of weeks to come will be markedly better. :) Now to go present a week late on a case study.

2010-11-12

TypeError: 'gdb.Value' object is not callable

I like writing code in Vala recently. I'm currently writing a little parser for Pidgin logs. However, when I try running it under gdb, I often get python tracebacks within my gdb backtrace that of the type TypeError: 'gdb.Value' object is not callable.

#4  0x08052d20 in pidgin_html_log_parser_parse (self=Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/share/glib-2.0/gdb/gobject.py", line 72, in to_string
    name = g_type_name_from_instance (self.val)
  File "/usr/share/glib-2.0/gdb/gobject.py", line 59, in g_type_name_from_instance
    name = g_type_to_name (gtype)
  File "/usr/share/glib-2.0/gdb/gobject.py", line 24, in g_type_to_name
    typenode = lookup_fundamental_type (typenode)
  File "/usr/share/glib-2.0/gdb/gobject.py", line 17, in lookup_fundamental_type
    return val[typenode >> 2].address()
TypeError: 'gdb.Value' object is not callable
, log_path=0x805deb8 "/home/user/file.html", protocol=
    0x8057448 [Protocol], my_account=0x80574c0 [Account], their_account=0x8057230 [Account], error=0xbfffef98)
    at /home/user/files/mine/development/projects/myproject/PidginLog.c:3009

After thinking about it for a little while, I realised that the issue must be that my class is somehow not a GObject. I was failing to extend from GLib.Object!

So, the affected classes have now changed from:

class Foo { ... }
to
class Foo : GLib.Object { ... }
and all is well with the world once more.

I'm surprised that there were few other questions about this online. Perhaps everyone else is more mindful than I or fewer people use Vala than I thought.

2010-11-09

Another Busy Weekend?

Just when you think you're caught up, you aren't, at all, remotely.

School-wise, this weekend was full of Natural Language Processing work and squeezing in what AI I could. It didn't help that my group was able to produce the files I needed to work with at 5PM on Sunday, right when I was out for the evening. I then failed to communicate this when I checked them in the morning, so they're probably wondering "Where's Richard?", especially since I was unable to get to campus again. Ugh. It's humiliating being stranded every other week. An embarrassing first semester indeed.

2010-11-06

Savings

I've been saving up my charm all week for this Sunday evening :)

Organising People

... into lists!

Just reorganised my IM (and consequently Facebook) contact list which for the last 7-8 years has been based on a colour scheme. Group white was the absolute best person, purple were my closest friends, blue were good friends, red acquaintances, orange schoolmates, yellow workmates, grey undesirables, and black: things I didn't look at. Now it's normal, with stuff like "Guelph", "New Zealand", "Work", etc. One of the original motives, masking what I thought of the contacts, so someone wouldn't go "Hey, why aren't I under Friends?!" doesn't seem important anymore.

A Great Yesterday: a dull tale indeed

And by Yesterday I don't mean Friday but Thursday.

I broke my computer. Well, its OS installation at least. I was upgrading to Fedora 14 (yay!) after testing the LiveCD and finding things were nice. However, I foolishly needed my computer to go and interrupted the upgrade when I thought it was safe. I was wrong. The package manager and my installation were left in an inconsistent state. D'oh.

Consequently, I didn't have access to my computer for a couple days. Rather than sleeping, I spent my time trying to fix it, and having failed that, I departed for the Thursday morning train at 3:30AM not with my laptop but with a borrowed PowerBook G4 and none of my work :)

The walk was wonderful. It was November chilly. It made me glad to feel cold. To see a starry night. To have an hour-long walk to catch a train. It was wonderful, though I panicked to my girlfriend with late night phone calls discussing my dread of this and the day to come. I even recovered a couple hours of sleep on the train and then in the CS building as I waited for class.

Class itself was great. I fell asleep near the end, but the first half was all delicious as NLP usually is. Afterward, I went to attend the project demonstrations for the course I TA. Napoleonic naval battle simulations? DELICIOUS. It was nice seeing the work they had done, and seeing how it was shaped by their previous programming assignments. Also, because all the students have to interact across 5 teams that interact with each other on interfaces and functionality, there was a class-wide enthusiasm for what they were doing which I never got to experience in my undergrad. I am jealous! The latter half of the lab I spent regrading assignments and helping give grades to students whose assignments before didn't seem to do... anything. Most of the time, my marking was hindered by the process in which I tried to make it work. My reasonable protocol could not be handled by everyone, and while that deserves some deductions, it's good to be able to mark what can work and recognise the work done.

One group of students afterward invited me to join them for sushi. I figure it's not a conflict of interest as I'm still paying for myself and I don't remember student names anyway! HA. I didn't realise that we were going to go to Fuji sushi downtown, where I was already planning to go as part of OCUS Eats Out in the evening. However, I went and was glad. We discussed their project a bit, but ended up mostly eating. I will discuss the food later.

After this, I hurried back to campus to go to AI and meet my group. More Information Theory. The group work was well-divided and scheduled, hooray. Then I made my way to OCUS. At first I felt like a great outsider but our current OCUS president (?) is very inclusive, and I got a ride with PhD student who was even in OCUS during my undergraduate. It was a great car ride, and I learnt a lot, and a little gossip. We ended up having a large party arrive and got to sit in the fancy section with the long tables. Now for the food, though.

It was awful. At lunch, the green tea was served unsteeped so in the evening we just took the pot to pour it ourselves. The edamame was barely salted and we too young at lunch, so we didn't order any at supper. They forgot parts of our order and the stuff ordered first came last in the afternoon. In the evening, with our larger crowd, we were split into 4 sections, and my section waited 45 minutes for the bulk of our food while all the other sections had theirs arrive in a steady stream. I almost ate a Forest Roll because I was told it was vegetarian when it really had crab. Would recommend.

This was my first time eating All You Can Eat sushi, and I can see the appeal. You can order food gradually as you've a taste for it. You can get dessert. You can sit for a while and enjoy yourself (up to 1.5 hours, a limit to prevent you from living there). I have heard people describe it as a bad thing, as a waste of fish, with so much being eaten all at once. Since I don't eat fish, though, that one criticism doesn't apply to me, just the general overconsumption of food does, which seems somewhat reasonable if resources allow when there is cause for a feast. Feasts, I've noticed, are a big thing in human culture. Food. Nom.

While the restaurant's service wasn't great, and their vegetarian selection wasn't either, and some of their dishes were lacking in quality, the reason I went and would go again is entirely the social experience. When you want to eat with a large group, it seems like a great idea, especially since it's served almost like dim sum. Food for a group and you pick away at it. I think I'd like to have that experience with exclusively vegetarian food, though. I've had that once with my Vancouver landlady, my girlfriend, and a friend, but I'm more familiar with having to pick and choose what goes on the plate through work lunches and stuff.

The two groups were fun and funner. The first group had a vegetarian who ate fish and my evening group had another vegetarian who didn't. Since the latter and I were at different tables (the OCUS group took up TWO long tables with almost 16 people at each), we even offered pieces between tables as demand and supply allowed near the end. I remained disturbed at the difficult I have at remembering names of late. I credit it with being on campus only twice a week and dealing with so many people. In earnest, though, it's probably largely the result of passively learning their names rather than actively. At the latter, I got to talk to a PhD student who's been TAing for years and had his undergraduate in CS. Elsewise, there was a lot of humour, and once I missed my train, gossip. The gossip is somewhat strange since I have a faint idea of who a lot of the people concerned are from when I was there before, but I don't know them very well, or they're knew people who I don't know very well. My interest in gossip is benign and educational of course, and I eschew malice in it. :D

Afterward, I returned to the OCUS lounge to work but ended up finding that one of the girls had indeed bought a new comic from the Firefly universe, Serenity: The Shepherd's Tale, as had been threatened at supper. I ended up reading that and consequently was dragged along to OCUS's dodge ball game, where I loudly cheered "Sink their battleship!" and "Smash their skulls in!" and, when we had too many people on the sidelines of the enemy side "Good, you've got 'em surrounded, now blast 'em!" We ultimately lost 2-3, but our victories were truer, you know, as we won by clearing their court both times, while they only could win by having more units still on court after time.

An argument on the epicness of Scott Pilgrim vs the World occupied my double-walk back to the lounge where, in a fit of other people working, I pulled out my Ace: Dutch Blitz. 3 people quickly gave up any hope of productivity and joined me in 4 fun-filled and educational rounds before I had to depart to catch the last-possible-train-which-I-really-shouldn't-miss. I naturally left the addiction behind for them to better habituate themselves to my favourite way to play.

The bus ride down was a typical late Thursday night affair: rowdy students. My walk to the station was typical: a free muffin from the Salvation Army's late night table. My train ride home was the usual sleep-deprived fight to do something on a computer. My walk home was the usual "I just want to take a nap in these bushes" late-night affair. Once home, I talked to my girlfriend about her day and enjoyed useless speculation on life before finally sleeping for a hundred hours straight.

A couple weeks

Writing nirvana is nigh at hand! My dream of being able to write things locally in a managed way and then publish them wherever approaches. Streamlines approaches. I hope to have it in production use by January. (Winter break will be necessary to allocate time to it.) Until then, I'll continue writing the old fashioned way: one box, one location. Today's box is blogger.

School has been harsh recently. I have had an assignment that was incomplete by the due date, but the professor graciously allowed an extension. Then I felt ill (due to sleeping and eating habits I suspect) and had a bunch of grading to do for the course I TA. The marking went off well, but probably took too long to do. A number of students fared poorly, and some of it I thought was due to finickiness or transient errors. I had them come back yesterday for regrading, where anyone who didn't like their mark could argue it. Some people don't do better, some do.

Last Thursday I almost didn't want to go to school. I still wasn't feeling great, but I did, and it was a Good Thing. I went somewhat sleep deprived, as I had a lot of stuff to do like finishing preparations for a lab on Object-oriented programming (humans make great metaphors for objects, which was sort of backwards) and trying to finish that assignment, which I kept being too busy to do! Consequently, I got minimal sleep, having to get ready at 3:00AM for my 4:45AM train, filled with crippling fear of missing my stop again :| (Which happened a couple of weeks ago and retaught me that some suffering in life is a Good Thing.)

The lab I prepared went well, and even featured me spending too much money on a bake sale to get treats for the students that made it out. It was somewhat redundant, as they had just had to submit an assignment that involved discovering objects in a domain. SIGH. The lab had been delayed because I thought it would be important to do well and the week before I was too busy with a midterm and a presentation to attend to it well. I should have been more aware of their upcoming assignment though. Oh well, it turned fun.

In AI we started a set of lectures on Information Theory, which we already had in my Natural Language Processing course a couple weeks ago. Review is good. I sort of prefer NLP where explanations focus more on the mathematics of an issue, though.

Afterward, I visited multiple people, laughing with students in the lab, CIS students in the CS lounge, and dropping by OCUS briefly where I discovered new people before making a mad dash to the bus to the train to try and catch a bus to Windsor which I failed in doing.

Halloweekend

Friday saw me catching a morning bus to Windsor to visit my girlfriend and work. There was some great fun, including carving pumpkins with friends of her, visiting Value Village, and buying a Pogoplug (not yet operational)! We also dressed funny and played games. On Halloween, we drove all the way to Guelph to do Trick or Eat. I barely saw anyone I know, especially since we incidentally signed up to go with FLASH, but the FLASHers were a fine folk and soon Princess Leia, a disgruntled Newsy, and two knights templar were canvassing the streets explicitly for foodstuffs and implicitly candy. A great haul was had, and a sidewalk attacked the princess.

More school

On Tuesday I missed my train into Guelph. It was either this week or last, as well, that I had discovered mildew on my futon frame and spent half a day cleaning as a consequence. I knew, if I would just embrace the mildew, I'd have fewer complaints. Yada, yada, yada, this Thursday in the next post.

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I am aeronautical, vanship-style.  I am olympic and mythical.  I rest on my laurels.