Acceptances with these essay(s): University of California Berkeley, Los Angeles, San Diego, Irvine (EECS) + Regents Scholarship
Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.
I'm a fifth generation Californian who's picked up a few of the habits of the region, among them surfing and computer programming. What does this mean? Having a foot in both worlds gives me a sense of balance and perspective. Beyond that, surfing has influenced my software coding and future interests in ways I never expected. I try to code like a surfer, with bravado and panache. Now, some may ask, "Programming with panache? Isn't that an oxymoron? Since when did programmers, i.e. nerdy Poindexter-guys, have any flair?" But the surprising majority of coders do! Surfing or no, computer scientists are engaging and passionate people – really, they are poets of logic who write words that have the value of a thousand pictures. In our world view, each line of code is not only a cog in a vast and elegant machine but a dynamic, flowing brush stroke in a painting that never dries. A program must not only efficiently solve the problem at hand, but to be truly optimal, its structure must be cleanly expandable to accommodate future challenges. And this finely crafted, adaptable solution is (to all who work to comprehend it) as beautiful as it is intriguing, and worth every moment of brainwork and sleep it costs to find it. This culture of dedication, aestheticism, and internal adventure characterizes the first world from which I come. The second world is surfing. It demands a similar level of intense focus, but its excitement and appeal are more immediate and visceral. Dropping into a 7-foot barreling wave is like riding a standup liquid rollercoaster that you control (or if you fall, it's like being a cockroach in a trash compactor). But it is for more than just the sheer thrill of the ride that I paddle out into the lineup whenever I can. Surfing both requires and induces a contemplative state of mind. As you sit among the outside swells, the shore winking in and out of sight in the muffling grayness of the morning mist, the steadfast constructs of society become transient and your thoughts branch out unfettered. If you've hit a wall with a programming problem, it often melts away in the water. Furthermore, being immersed (quite literally) in nature provides inspiration. My project for the Intel Science Talent Search involved developing a microchip that could very quickly find the shortest route between two points. Where did the algorithm underlying it come from? I realized that the patterns made by the rivulets of water running down my surfboard mirrored those traversed by parallel signals in a delay network. Not only was the resulting algorithm much faster than the traditional approach, but this thought process led me to derive an efficient solution to an even more difficult computational problem. So what does all this mean for my future? Had I never surfed, I likely still would love to program. But because I do surf, I additionally harbor a fascination with alternative computing paradigms inspired by nature, and I seek to continue to research them. As information theorist Seth Lloyd comments, the universe itself is fundamentally a giant quantum computer – every instant, it resolves staggeringly difficult computational problems. I would like to do my part to help harness this awesome power for the benefit of humanity.
Tell us about a personal quality, talent, accomplishment, contribution or experience that is important to you. What about this quality or accomplishment makes you proud and how does it relate to the person you are?