Fourth quarter of my Personal PhD project (April – June 2016) [update #4.1]

It is hard to believe, but it has been a year into my self-learning project dubbed Personal PhD.

I will write up a summary of my year a bit later, but for now, what happened with the fourth quarter?

It did not go as well as previous quarters. For one this is the only update about the fourth quarter. I didn’t manage to write an update at the beginning of the quarter with what was my plan. One reason was that it took longer than anticipated to wrap up with the third quarter. I wrote the final post on the third quarter on April 27th when the new quarter was supposed to start on April 1st.

The goal for the fourth quarter was to follow along Stanford’s course CS224d Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing in real-time as the course was happening. It wasn’t officially a MOOC but all the materials are posted online here:

The topic is exactly relevant to what I do at work and in fact few of my coworkers were taking the class as well so we even started a study group.

Unfortunately it didn’t pan out as I had hoped for. Till now I have only managed to get through the first 3 lectures out of the total 18 lectures.

Let’s see why.

My quarter was supposed to be from April through end of June, but as I said above I only really wrapped up Q3 at the very end of April. The reason for that was that I went on vacation for 10 days trekking in Patagonia at the end of March. When I am on vacation, I am on vacation, so no work and no studying. After I got back I had to catch up with a lot of work and life stuff.

Then in May I was sick for a week which is so atypical for me, and the worst, I couldn’t even read. At the end of May I was in NYC for 10 days very busy so I couldn’t study then and again, had lots of stuff to catch up after I got back.

My takeaway from this experience is that whenever I go on vacation or trip I need to build in a catch up time. This is especially true for longer trips. Several times this year I found myself being really behind on personal email and errands after coming back from trips.

The CS224d course itself is great! Even the first three lectures were super interesting and useful.

So what’s the score for the quarter? 3 out of 18 lectures and 1 out of 6 updates is 0.17 (compare that to previous quarter’s score of 0.92).

Anyways I am cutting my loses short and declaring now its the end of 4th quarter instead of spending a month catching up and potentially getting further behind 🙂

Next up, I will be taking a “summer break” from my Personal PhD program 🙂 I have a two-week long vacation planned in August and right now I am about to head out for a road trip/camping trip to Crater Lake National Park and have few more road trips planned in July.

Initially I thought I could take a three-month long summer break, but I have a feeling I won’t be able to last that long without learning something new, so don’t worry, I will be back soon enough! 🙂



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