Well, it’s official: I’m a research student. The teacher of one of the classes that I was attending in the MSc course asked the group who was going to or thinking about doing a PhD in the University of Manchester after finishing. I think it’s not needed to write that, well, I was totally there (hmmm, if it’s not needed, why did I anyway? Think about it). The teacher’s name, by the way, is Dr. Barry Lennox. His logic was very convincing: what’s your reason to be doing a MSc, other than it being the precesor of a PhD? Brief parenthesis: there’s a big difference between a MSc and a MPhil. A MSc is a taught program, meaning going to classes and doing a small dissertation project in the last three months of the 15-month period. A MPhil is a research program, meaning reading, reading, reading, and doing a small thesis about the findings at the end of the one- to two-year period.

To finish off his argument he mentioned that if you’re seeking funding, you need to apply during this year to have the whole process finish by the time you finish the MSc (around the end of next year). And if you’re applying for help to fund a PhD, the scholarship organizations will ask for a summary of the project that you’re going to be developing; if you have this already, why not start working on it now? It was hard to ignore the opportunity, but one thing was bugging me: I didn’t have a project to work on. That was the point of doing the MSc first: get an idea of what can be done. I went to talk to Dr. Lennox anyway, and he first asked of my qualifications: I mentioned my bachelor’s degree GPA (94/100) and that I have my own company, Makko Solutions. Apparently that was enough for him: “You’re in. What projects do you have in mind?” I was completely stumped.

I was actually quite impressed with the amount of ideas that came about. I never realized that I have had stored so much stuff in my little nugget. I first read of what the staff have written about, which was glaring: very diverse stuff, really. But I settled on two: Dr. Heath and Dr. Lennox. They have written about a subject that I’ve always heard about and that sounds interesting: Model Predictive Control, MPC, and justs as it sounds, predicting to satisfy every state of the controlled process (to read more: go here). It also implies controlling non-linear models (which in classical control is VERY hard) with more than one input/output (also a pain). 1. Using MPC as an optimizer of the process of coming up with a solution by genetic algorithms. 2. Global-Positioning-System-based guidance system as a control problem solved by MPC. 3. Quality control by MPC. 4. Flying Saucer project. 5. Using MPC for fault monitoring in the Intelligent Guitar Effect Box project. The first one. Genetic algorithms is an artificial intelligence concept, which, of what I’ve read, it’s the standard of comparison for other problem-based solution-finding algorithms.

The third one. If you’re from the industry, quality control must be day-in and day-out concept for you. I would like to see if MPC fits in there and what advantages can it bring out. The fourth one. I always thought that flying saucers were possible to make: by a fan controlled by a motor and counterweights in it’s edge, not by the center. MPC will be used to handle height control and direction. The fifth one. This was just to try and include my hobby in the whole thing: imagine a guitar effect’s box that you teach your song to, and the box will learn WHEN, in the song, to put WHAT effect. Now, when you go on stage, just plug it in and you don’t have to come back to step on pedals to apply the next effect. Obviously, because we always play a song differently everytime, the box needs to predict and compensate for any error in tuning and/or timing whilst playing live.

He mentioned that he had started working on a game which would teach a person how to play a certain song, like the dancing games you see in every arcade, but with any type of guitar. That actually fitted well with my project, but he instated that it’s very important to keep an open mind on where the project may lead. It’s very possible that this project, or it’s findings, may be applicable to other areas that aren’t sonic analysis, and, thus, don’t get too attached to it because it may change over time. Almost as in queue, here comes a bank, yes, a bank that has grown interest in the project and it’s feasibility of applying it to credit account owners and/or the accept/reject process of getting one. A lot of new terms to understand, therefore a lot to read, and always thinking on where to apply it. Right now I’m finishing reading on Principal Components Analysis, PCA, and it’s meaning (for more information, go here), Wikipedia rocks! It’s something that took more than two weeks of banging my head against the wall to understand, but it’s worth it, because now I know that PCA can simplify my life in the near future. Now that I’m full on this thing, as Dr. Lennox predicted, we have slowly changed course of where I’m going. What if you could look right through the cracks? You can live in this illusion. You can choose to believe.

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