Apprenticeship - Achyuta Kannan

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Group Project (Thank you partner)


Today is Day 2 of working in our group projects. We have to design and model a scenario in AgentCubes and Vensim as to show both types of modeling. My partner and I decided to model a fast food store - an idea that seemed feasible. Since I had missed last week's workday due to the SAT, my partner, Akhil, had to work on his side of the project alone. I know what it feels like to be the carry of a project, so I did my best after the SAT to work on this. After working on it for a couple of hours, I uploaded it to Cyberduck and when I tried to open the file here, it wouldn't open. I was mad, but also I knew I could recreate and even better my model. With Akhkil's help, the system model was done. Now all is left is for me to tweak and prepare to present.

Modeling 2 - AgentCubes


Agent modeling, in contrast to system modeling, models the interactions between the agents in the environment. This was the focus of today's class. To do agent modeling, we used AgentCubes. AgentCubes may seem kind of basic and childish, but I see it as rather simple and effective for what it does. AgentCubes was orignally made as a game engine for young kids, but is now used by Shodor to teach agent modeling. We learned how to model a simple Susceptible Infected and Recovered model (SIR). This was similar to what we did in SSP, which helped me get back to basics. Personally, I prefer Systems modeling than this, but they both have their use cases.

Modeling 1 - Systems


This day was focused on Vensim Modeling. Since I missed the previous meeting, I had to learn my way around Excel through the VOD. Vensim is a type of modeling wherein the model shows the dymanics of the system as a whole. From this, we made models of the population of Durham and the decay of Fermium 252 over time.

System modeling is not new to me as I have worked with Vensim before. However, I learned more about how Vensim works today than I had learned previously. This game me a better appreciation for how it works and why I should use it.

Cannot Not Be True


At the beginning of class we discussed different codes of ethics for different associations and groups. Personally, I didn't expect there to be codes of conduct/code of ethics for these organizations. I assumed that the people would adopt the code of their employment or research organization. It was interesting to see how these codes work towards the integrity of each field. One code that was interesting was that physists can be considered self-plagiarist. This seems werid at first, but it makes more sense once you consider that by self-plagiarizing, no new developments can feasibly occur.

After that topic, we talked about algorithms and deterministic behavior. To demonstrate these concepts, we played games like Mastermind and Sudoku. We played the game with the purpose of solving the puzzles deterministically. These games do not require the use of guessing but rather algorithmic problem solving. There are actions in the puzzle which cannot not be true. This allows for the completion of these puzzles in a more effective manner. Later on, Dr. Panoff performed some mathematical card tricks which were completely deterministic - no actual magic was involved. After doing the trick, he explained the math behind how it worked and how the trick cannot not work when performed correctly.

From algorithms, we moved to the basics of numerics, the study of how numerals can work in systems. We used Microsoft Excel to demonstrate this concept. First, we were asked to find to what value 3/6-1/6-1/6-1/6 computes. This came out to be 0. We were then asked to compute (3/6-1/6-1/6-1/6). This should return 0, but it returns 5.55 * 10^-17, a number very close to 0, but not 0. The simple act of putting parentheses around the expression changed its evaluation. This is because of the way truncation of the computation works. Not placing parentheses tells the computer to truncate the last digits and return 0. Placing parentheses tells the computer to fully evaulate and not truncate any insignificant digits. The reason why the actual evaluation value is not 0 is because the computer evaluates this expression in base 2, meaning that the evaluation will not be perfectly 0. Similarly, we were able to see at what point the computer thinks a small number is the same as zero and when a large number, but small relative to another value, is noticed by the machine. This shows how we should be careful with how we treat the system and potentially use these "mishaps" to our advantage.

How DO I Know? and a Lesson in Ethics


As we quietly were seated, a cranky man shows up. "I don't want to be here. I'd rather be at the State Fair," he mumbles to himself. He is soon to be revealed as our instructor for a lesson in office ethics. He's wearing plastic bags, a sideways hat, only one shoe, and a jersey of some kind. "Hello class, I am going to teach you about office ethics," he says unenthusiatically. His clothing, demeanor, mannerisms were unprofessional. Soon after, he gets kicked out and replaced by a better, more preofessional, and happier instructor, Ron Broadnax. He gave a quick intro to himself before cracking the line, "Call me anything, but don't call me late for dinner." This incredible joke was met with a wall of stares, smiles, and absolute silence. Ron then talks about the different aspects about office ethics and what should be done and what should not be done. For the most part, being ethical in the office is having common sense, etiquette, and not having an office relationship. Ron's acting made it more fun and made the lesson stick

After Ron's office ethics portion, Dr. Panoff picked up and began his classic introductory lecture, How Do You Know? This entailed us asking about several things and how we really know them. For example, if I asked you to count from ten to one backwards, how would you do that? One answer could be to say "one, two, three...nine, ten" as ten to one backwards, is just one to ten forwards. It was also possible to turn around, facing backwards, and count from ten to one. We were also tasked to find certain pieces of information such as "what is the mass of the Earth?" Dr. Panoff empahsized the importance of checking the sources to find the information, and how we can tell to a certain degree how accurate that answer is. After that, he showed us a series of deterministic card "tricks" that show that what may appear random, isn't always so. By the end of the day, I noticed that Dr. Panoff didn't fully cover HDYK, unlike SSP, which made me concerned. To my relief, I was told that we would finish it tomorrow.

I had a great time with today and look forward to the next day of HDYK.



Today we were oriented into Shodor. I have done Shodor before, namely the SSP and Computing MATTERS programs. These programs were designed to get us to think in a modeling and computational manner, and teach us that we can't take things for granted like our machines. Coming into the Apprenticeship, I was expecting that my knoweledge would help me and so far it has. To attend the Apprenticeship, we had to go a different bulding as Shodor relocated recently. Today was orientation day. This orientation was ironically named Sunshine, Puppies, and Kittens. Though boring and draining, it is important to establish these rules in order to work productively. We were introduced to most of the staff and Ernie actually came in person, which is a sight only seen by a select few. Looking at the systems and people made me feel at home, in a place where I belong.

After walking through procedure, we were introduced into Cyberduck and how we would upload our website files to the cloud. This is the method which I use to upload files outside of the Shodor machines. Over time, we will improve the quality of our websites and learn about how to properly deisgn one.

As a former SSP student, I start to see how my prior knowledge will be deepened. I see that the Apprenticeship is more like a job, than it is an educational opportunity and I like that. With that being said, there is more responsibility in this program. There are dealines to meet, you can't slack off, and you must show enthusiam in your work. This works well for me, since this an area of great interest to me.

I look forward to the rest of the year in this program and I hope to learn more than I expect.