It has almost been 5 years, from 29.07.2010 to 10.04.2015, as an undergrad at University of Moratuwa,Sri Lanka and this is a short look-back into the past few years. Thought it took almost an year more than it was planned initially; due to trade union strikes, student clashes and whatnot, all which are so rare in Sri Lanka, I would say I do not regret that time. I think I was fortunate enough to make the best out of it. The department of Computer Science and Engineering is the place that made everything possible and it will always be remembered as one of those special places.
10 Best Courses
In the meantime, I took some time to do some review on the CSE curriculum and rate my favorite courses. I tried my best, though might not be fully avoided, to decouple the experience I have on the course delivery from the course content. Though course delivery is a core component that makes path to the success of a course, what I wanted to reflect from this list is a measure of the course content and the learning experience.
- CS 4342 Advanced Computer Architecture
- CS 4542 Compiler Design
- CS 3062 Theory of Computing
- MA 4052 Numerical Analysis for Scientific Computing
- CS 4532 Concurrent Programming
- EN 2062 Signals and Systems (Prof. Keerthi Walgama did a tremendous job teaching this subject, Kudos !)
- CS 4522 Advanced Algorithms
- CS 3512 Programming Languages
- CS 2022 Data Structures and Algorithms
- MA 2032 Linear Algebra
- [Honorable mention] CS 3612 Intelligent Systems
- [Honorable mention] CS 4622 Machine Learning
It should be noted that the above preferences have a lot to do with my personal tastes. I consider this one course, Theory of Computing as a turning point in my undergrad life, or may be even beyond that. Before coming to semester 5, I was a data geek and a machine learning enthusiast. Inspired by Andrew Ng‘s very first run of the ML course on Coursera platform in 2012. However, ToC class changed my entire view of Computer Science. I think Prof. Sanath Jayasena who later became an unforgettable character in my life, and his teaching also played some role here, however the course content alone was pretty mature to inspire an enthusiast. It was because of the ToC class, I decided to take two follow-on classes Programming Languages and Compiler Design. By the time of writing, I am a fully-pledged compiler guy having Machine Learning as a smart charm in my tool-box. Most modern compiling units use machine learning in one way or another, so ML is a good companion to take with you side-by-side. Overall undergrad learning experience, I would say, is very good given that you work hard enough to make it so. One note before winding-up this section, I publicly discourage taking courses for the sake of grades. This is the worst thing you can do to yourself, if you are an enthusiastic learner.
I consider the fourth and the final year at CSE is the best of all, that counted towards the personal growth. Above all, an (nearly) year-long Research and Development Project was a priceless experience. So it’s in your hands to make it count towards your future. Do not just do the project because it’s compulsory and you want to grab 10 credits, but rather out of pure passion towards discovery. Trust me, there will be immediate benefits if you do a good research. The return of a good project is high and you won’t regret the sleepless nights you spent searching for success. I met a lot of good people who are good friends, mentors, teachers and colleagues. Almost everything that took place during this year helped me to get myself consolidated and set my goals straight for the foreseeable future.
Given that you are in your early 20s, it is perfectly natural to be in one. But the one golden rule that one shall remember when finding your significant other is that he/she should at least have some common sense about life. Au contraire, if you have greater dreams in you life and the other has no prospects whatsoever beyond the cultural obligations of marriage and procreation, that’s a no-go (for me). Abort mission, I repeat, Abort mission !
You don’t get credits for having a life, but…
but it gives a lot more to remember and cherish. Life, in my perspective, better not be monolithic. I spent quality time with the university Taekwondo team, sharing awesome moments. The team was like a second family where I rejoiced the times I spent with. In the gym, you toil to the worst until your limbs hurt for days, but the memories you make last longer than the pain. “Sports” was an important aspect during last 4+ years that backed me up to keep things up and running.
In conclusion, it was a very well spent undergrad life and collected a load of experiences. These times will surely be remembered forever. Thanks for everyone who helped to make it so. Ciao !