Monday, August 23, 2010

September 11th

A short article on peculiar personal effects of September 11th and an interesting technical conference in Argentina.

I am off to the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society conference which is being held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I am presenting a paper that takes the established statistical pattern recognition technique known as support vector machines and reformulates the mathematics of the approach such that the entire technique can be summarized with a single mathematical equation. The equation is producing superior test results on my MRI breast cancer data and to a super-nerd like me, it seems like an elegant solution to this problem. A journal paper version has been drafted and will be sent out to a peer-reviewed journal shortly.

After enjoying the conference and a little vacation with some fine Argentine red meat and red wine I will depart Argentina on the 10th and make it back to Canada on the 11th (September 11th - a spooky day to fly).

Incidentally that made me think of a story - nine years ago I started a job at a software company in downtown Toronto called Alt software. A few days into my job was September 11th (2001). It wouldn't be long before everyone started panicking that all the airlines were going to go bankrupt, they all canceled their orders with Boeing (and other airplane manufacturers) who put new airplane development on hold which froze work with Honeywell (who was contracted to design that airplane's electrical and computer systems) who then froze work with Alt software (who was contracted to develop 3D graphics software for next generation airplane pilot consoles). At the time, most of Alt software's contracts were based in the airline industry and facing a sudden lack of revenue the company laid off many of their staff including myself who only worked there for about 2 months. A good thing that I remember about that job is that I built a little program that allowed you to test other computer programs under constrained CPU conditions (testing a program when the computer is busy with other stuff). The program allowed you to control how busy you made the computer. Although I only worked there for 2 months or so this program that I wrote was distributed to the company that contracted us - Honeywell International. To a nerd like me that was cool.

No new content will be published on this website until I return mid-September.

Jacob Levman