It felt like summer had just begun, but I was already preparing for the first day of classes. After trying a bunch of classes and estimating my expected workload for the semester, I have settled on the following classes. I’m glad that I have a great mix of classes – technical, liberal arts and practical.
1) CS 4410 – Operating Systems
It’s the last core course for the CS major. The class attempts to demystify operating systems through some essential abstractions and simple models. There is a 2-credit practicum class that comes along with this, which is notorious for its workload. Initially, I was planning on taking the practicum as well. In class, our professor was explaining the project schedule and said, “The next three weeks are going to be very intense because you’ll have two projects due, but after that it will be just intense.” Yesterday, I re-evaluated my time commitments and decided to drop the prac.
2) CS 4860 – Applied Logic
Last semester, I took a class on set theory so I would be well prepared to take this class. I’m not sure what the applied part of the class is, but I’m excited to learn about formal logic. Professor Anil Nerode, one of the founding members of Cornell’s CS department, is teaching this class. Cornell CS was the fourth CS department in any university around the world; it recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. So Professor Nerode is old. He is old enough to have worked with Kurt Godel and met Von Neumann. His lectures are somewhat confusing, but they are worth attending for his anecdotes which feature several heroes of Math and CS.
3) CS 4999 – Independent Research
I’m continuing the research I was working on over the summer, with Professor Nate Foster. I have barely done anything for it since the beginning of the semester. In fact I have made the opposite of progress by breaking my local environment for developing the project. Lack of time for research is one reason I decided to drop OS prac.
4) LATA 4011 – Student Community Partnership in Ecuador
This is the class that I’ve been most excited about! As part of this class, I will be going to Ecuador in Winter break. We have had one guest lecturer so far and it was an enlightening lecture/workshop on critical reflection. You can read more about this on my class blog.
5) HIST 2749 – Mughal India and the Early Modern World
Although the class is about Mughal India’s (1500-1800) place in the world at its time and its encounters with people beyond the Indian subcontinent, the bottomline is “how to think about history”. So far, history has always been a bunch of assumptions,facts,events and causes and effects of these events. In this class, it’s about critically analyzing history as it is presented to us. Who wrote this history? What are they arguing for? What are they not telling us? What are their motivations and biases? How can we study history without imposing current ideologies and identities onto the past? History is not facts about dead people, but a dynamic story pieced together with what evidence there is.