Hi there! Welcome to my site. Here you will find all that I can think to tell you up until this moment and also how to get in touch with me if you still want more information.
My name is Jos Wezenberg. I am a graduate from the University of Amsterdam in a novel field:
Future Planet Studies
Not sure what that means? Do not panic, nobody does at first. It is a combination of a wide range of disciplines that you might be more familiar with:
Intermediate Maths, Chemistry and Physics
Main Themes: Food, Water & Energy
For more information about what the BSc track contains, visit Future Planet Studies on the University of Amsterdam web-page.
It is a set package of courses that teaches the broad-spectrum skills required to come up with solutions to the unique and complex problems our world faces today, from small/local scale to meta/global scale issues.
As if this was not enough, I chose to expand even further. As the only student from my year and the second student ever, I decided to choose Artificial Intelligence (AI) as my major. This is another multi-disciplinary field that combines:
Object Oriented Programming
Data Structure Development
Main Goal: Human Brain -> Machine
This major does not enable you to develop sentient machines or anything that would elicit a “The machines are taking over!”-type of response. But they do teach you the underlying processes that allow the human brain to perform its magic (because most of how it really works is still unknown) and what would be required to mimic (parts of) these processes.
Linguistic algorithms, Machine Learning and Epistemic Logic Models are merely elements of the processes that the human brain can perform inherently, every day. But by combining what we do know about the human brain with the current state of computational power allows for some impressive applications, already being used all over the world. Linguistic algorithms help analyse the content of webpages, scan people’s conversations and social media posts for malicious content and of course help to prevent you from making too many typo’s when using your smartphone (although using auto-correct does not necessarily mean an improvement). Machine Learning is used to predict stock-developments and lies at the heart of Facial Recognition software. Epistemic Logic Models are used in almost all modern computer games to provide you with a realistic opponent experience when battling against ‘the computer’ when you’re friends are unavailable for a multiplayer game.
This major was a bold choice, since I did not yet poses the necessary Bèta-oriented math skills required to adequately participate in most of the AI courses.
Despite additional tutoring, I ended up failing the first mandatory math course which was an entry-requirement for all following AI courses. This meant I had a full year of delays. But in stead of calling it quits, I doubled down. I went back to the basics with the help of my friend T. Veerman MSc., who happens to be an overqualified middle-school maths teacher. I tackled all of the items I struggled with most in the course and this allowed me to not only complete the course successfully, but also be much more confident in the courses that followed, because I knew the underlying principles of the calculations, not just the example protocols. This proved to be very valuable, even up until my Bachelor Thesis.
This did not mean that the rest of the major was a cake-walk. Quite the opposite. The course had a high number of dropouts. Students who did AI as a full Bachelor or as a major in their respective Bachelor track. Most underestimated the number of hours and dedication it took to get through the fast-paced program. Most of the students seemed to be quite strongly dependent on templates and answer models to complete the exercises and take-home assignments. I was one of those students until I attended a meeting regarding just this subject during one of the Machine Learning courses. The students collectively found the lack of answer models and templates increasingly difficult to handle as the level of skills required steadily increased each week. The following quote changed me as a student and, frankly, as a person:
“In order to be a real student, you should not have to rely on answer sheets or template models. You should be able to figure it out from start to finish using only the materials at your disposal. That is what sets you apart from being just a follower and shows that you can be a leader in uncharted, real life situations.”
– Dr. M.W. van Someren, University of Amsterdam
He continued to inspire me throughout my final year at the university and also helped me find my Bachelor Thesis Project. Also, I was lucky enough to have him speak at my graduation ceremony. I am very grateful to him for opening my eyes to this. Because I went from the follower he made me out to be at that moment, to the leader he knew I could be. It took me from a student who made only the required assignments, to a student that looked up the research the assignment was originally based on. Taking an interest in the material I was working with on a much deeper level. Especially during the Cognitive Psychology course, this meant that I was able to engage in debates with the teachers about the different studies that were discussed in class. On one occasion, I was even able to fill in for someone who neglected to study up on the article that they was supposed to present to class that week. I knew the material because I read all the articles that were to be presented that day, and every presentation day that followed as well. I went from a student that dreaded finals week, to the guy people went to for his notes because they had skipped classes. This was an extraordinary feeling that I had not experienced since my early days in middle-school. Somewhere along the line I lost my academic spark and Dr. van Someren helped me find it again.
To understand how all of these fields come together, I can best utilize the final projects of both my Bachelor and Major. For Future Planet Studies, my final Interdisciplinary Project was on a Flood Scenario in the city of Mumbai. Collaborating with a human geography major and a geology major, we made a review of the current evacuation plans for slums in Mumbai and how it might be improved from a multi-disciplinary perspective. Taking into account socio-economic, psychological and cultural factors, as well as soil properties, flow-patterns and possible technological solutions with regards to early-warning capabilities. This required a tight collaboration and a mutual understanding of our respective fields, which proved difficult at first, but we were able to bring it to a satisfactory result in the end. It was a great experience, training planning skills, showing us that everything is connected in such complex projects and forcing us to integrate all of each others research into one coherent review. A strict division of tasks was no longer sufficient. A collaborative approach of this level requires patience and a good overview of the project goals. I took it upon myself to take the leadership position on this project, because I had the broadest skill set and the clearest view of how the project was to turn out at the time. Unfortunately, this project was assigned at the same time as my collaborators’ Major thesis projects, which for them, clearly had a much higher priority. I managed to get the end result into a presentable shape but it should have been so much more. If you wish to read the full project in the format we were required to upload it in, you can check it out here.
My Major-thesis, however, was a completely different story. This was a solo project with a very hands-on supervisor (H. Zhu) and I got the chance to show what I am capable of. There was a project in the Institute for Informatics faculty of the University of Amsterdam overseen by Dr. P Grosso that was focused around expanding a paper that was submitted for publishing at the 2014 International Green Computing Conference (IGCC). It was partially approved but had to be expanded by about one third part in order to be published. They decided to turn this into a Bachelor thesis project for Computer Science students and it wasn’t until Dr. M. van Someren pointed me towards the project that I got really excited for it and contacted Dr. Grosso immediately. It was unconventional for her to work with AI candidates but she was willing to award it to me and make sure that the quality of the work was up to her standards so their paper could be published with the expansion based on my work. I managed to complete my work within the given time frame and it was graded with 7.5/10
*Work In Progress*
- J. Wezenberg (2015). Investigation of Gaussian Mixture Models for power estimation in a computing cluster. University of Amsterdam.
- H. Zhu, P. Grosso, X. Liao & C.T.A.M. de Laat (2014). Evaluation of approaches for power estimation in a computing cluster. In 2014 International Green Computing Conference (IGCC) (pp. 1-10). Dalls, TX: IEEE.