This page is for potential employers who would like to get an idea of my skills and motivations. It is also for myself, as it helps me to keep track of where I am, what I am doing, and how to plan accordingly.
I am currently looking for a job that will provide a good opportunity to further increase my knowledge of programming. I would particularly like to specialise in Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, or Virtual Reality. I find these areas incredibly fascinating and I adamantly believe that their already huge importance will only increase in the future.
I am also interested in education and any job that has an impact on education would be a bonus. Alternatively, I would be proud to find a job that could eventually lead me to a position of leadership, where I can mentor others as they develop their own programming skills.
In the meantime, I am focusing on expanding my knowledge of computing, currently through a C# and Unity course on Udemy (thelearnjourn.com/lets-learn-unity).
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This was one of my two final year projects from Keele University. It involved simulating a virtual environment filled with animats (virtual creatures). It was my first time developing a neural network and a genetic algorithm. So I am very happy to have received a first for my work. I also received the highest mark in my cohort for a poster I made to explain my work, which can be seen below:
What was my question?
In 1996, Potts put forward the Variability Selection Hypothesis which suggests that more complex environments lead to a greater frequency of social learning and other adaptive survival strategies. This was tested in 2012 by Borg and Channon using the Hamming distance of strings. I wanted to see if their results could be replicated using a more natural task.
I procedurally generated environments of varying variability. They contained food, water, and shelters and were then populated with 120 animats which needed to eat and drink in order to survive to their maximum age. When an animat died, a new one would be immediately born from a crossover and mutation of the oldest non-parent animat (elder) and another randomly selected animat. The animat would follow its elder parent and learn behaviours from it for a duration of time known as a “protection period”. The mean duration of all the animats protection periods was used to measure the frequency of social learning.
Although my experiment seemed to support Borg and Channon’s findings, a statistical analysis demonstrated that the findings didn’t contain any significant effects. My markers felt that this was likely due to a small population size. Perhaps the results would have been significant if I had used a population of about 100.
What I learnt
Obviously, I discovered a lot about neural networks and genetic algorithms. I also gained experience with software development and scheduling deadlines over the course of my year of work.
Now that I have gone back to look over my program, I have been reminded of the importance of commenting. I had included a fair amount of comments in my code. However, as I thought that I would be the only one to ever use it, and knowing that I would certainly remember what I had done, that my code’s clarity wasn’t all that important. It turns out that my memory isn’t quite as infallible as I thought and I spent the first half an hour just working out how my 2000 lines of code were working.
- Potts, R., 1996a. Humanity’s descent: the consequences of ecological instability (Vol. 1). William Morrow.
- Borg, J. and Channon, A. D., 2012. Testing the Variability Selection Hypothesis: The Adoption of Social Learning in Increasingly Variable Environments. Artificial Life, 13 pp.317-324.
This is the other of my two final year projects from Keele. In this experiment, I wanted to see if feedback delay and curiosity could be used to either speed up or improve foreign language acquisition. I received a first overall. As part of the work involved, I had to make and present a poster detailing my work. My presentation received the highest mark in my year and I have included the poster below, should you wish to see it.
What was my question?
In 2014, Mullaney and colleagues found that if they delayed feedback while asking general trivia questions, then the later retention of the answers would improve. Interestingly, this effect was only found when the participants were curious to know the answer before receiving feedback.
Curiosity is closely related to motivation, especially intrinsic motivation, which is very important when learning a new language. Despite this, there were no studies at the time of my experiment that had investigated the feedback delay effect in foreign language learning. So, I decided to find out if the effect could be used to improve language learning.
To answer my question, I made a list of 30 foreign words, 10 from German, 10 from Icelandic, and 10 from Japanese. I then recruited 214 participants with the help of Benny Lewis, who advertised it through his mailing list. Each participant attempted to translate my 30 words into English. After making an attempt at each one, they were asked to rate their curiosity on a 6-point scale before receiving the correct answer. About half of the participants received delayed feedback.
After a short distractor task, the participants then tried again to translate the 30 words without receiving feedback or rating their curiosity.
The improvement from the first to the second test was slightly higher for the group who received delayed feedback. But this was not a big enough difference to be considered statistically significant.
These findings could mean that curiosity towards individual words is not as important in language learning as it is when learning general knowledge. However, the artificial nature of the task may have had an influence. It may have been better to place the words within sentences to make the task more natural.
What I learnt
In addition to gaining 30 words in my foreign vocabulary, I found out a lot about academic research, experimentation, and statistics. Having tested the knowledge that I had learnt up to that point in my course, I am in a much better if I ever find myself using them in the future.
- Mullaney, K. M., Carpenter, S. K., Grotenhuis, C., & Burianek, S. (2014). Waiting for feedback helps if you want to know the answer: The role of curiosity in the delay-of-feedback benefit. Memory & Cognition, 42(8), 1273-1284.