Friday, March 20, 2009

Grad School: 2nd Quarter Finished

So I took my last exam last night, and turned in the paper for the class this morning. This one's been a real struggle, I took it before I was ready in terms of background, and I havn't been able to use the professor's office hours because I've been working full time.

Optimization Analysis is a very cool subject, and I jumped into it because I did fairly well in the previous class and it got me excited about the power and potential that the technique provides. Dr. Martin is a visiting University of Chicago professor at their graduate school of business, and he is the real deal in terms of expertize and knowledge. He's also an enthusiastic and effective instructor, and I'm glad to have been able to take a class with him. On the other hand, it really would have behooved me to have taken linear algebra and an actual programming class (like the program requirements require) before attempting to do Mathematical Programming. Chalk one up for overconfidence and painful lack of experience on my part. I think if I hadn't been working full time and had been able to devote some part of that ten hours a day to study and asking questions in his office, I would be in much better shape.

As it stands, I may pass. Its up in the air. I feel like I did better on the exam than I expected, but worse on the project than I was hoping. I was able to use GAMS to build most of the model I was shooting for and get it to run without errors, but the algebraic formulation of a certain constraint elluded me to the bitter, bitter end. Even after geting some advice in his office (I took off work yesterday); either my translation into GAMS of his suggestion was incorrect, or the suggestion itself wasn't workable in GAMS. The former seems much more likely, and no matter how the grade works out I will talk with him next quarter to figure out how to get the formulation right, just cause its become slightly an obsession.

I did much better in Regression Analysis, I think. A B-grade is well within my reach, and if I did as well as I felt I did on the exam then I should have no problem.

Next quarter will be wonderful. I'll have my full time and attention to devote to study, and I'm finally on a path that I can be excited about in the very long run. Its kind of pathetic that all throughout my undergrad I had this expectation that once I got into the real business world, I'd be in the realm of great minds, problems, everyday challenging excitement... all in starck contrast to the actual experience I was getting in my Co-ops. To be fair, I was got a comparably huge share of those elements in the beginning of my Toyota co-ops, which was why I was excited to work here. If only they'd let me continue doing the same sort of work... It was never to be. Honestly, looking back I'm slightly appalled at my exuberant overconfidence with the naieve models I was creating. "Yeah, they're very predictive! Test it? Sure, I've sort of done that, I think." At least now I've got enough sense to recognize my folly.

I'll be looking forward to a more sensible sleep schedule. I'll have to confront my worsening caffine addiction soon here...

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