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Personal statement for computer science MS program with interest in Machine Learning


Elaine9668 1 / -  
Nov 21, 2017   #1
Hello everyone, I'm applying to computer science MS programs and hoping to study topics related to machine learning.

I have attached my personal statement for UPenn below ( I have already sent it, since the deadline for UPenn is Novemeber 15th), I will aslo apply other programs in the following days, such as Cornell, UCLA, Yale, USC, Columbia, and so on, so for the other programs, I will make changes to the last paragraph ( the reason why I chose this university).

My personal statment is pretty long, but it fits in the 2 pages. I would be really thankful if you could give any feedback, suggestion for my personal statement. I really appreciate your help and time for reading my personal statement. Have a good day.

Personal statement:



I will never forget the feeling I got when I first used computers through playing checkers. Even though I knew it helped my parents' work, I never thought a clumsy machine could be like a human, but cleverer-it can interact with you and always win. Moreover, when I discovered the Paint program could work like a drawing board, my urge to know how it was designed became much stronger. At that time, my dream was that one day I could build a more powerful machine that could outperform computers, especially in checkers.

After witnessing the expansion of computer science (CS), I was fascinated by how CS has bettered people's lives with seemingly impossible changes. My dream matured and I hoped that one day I could contribute my efforts to such changes. At the same time, I doubted whether I could do it until my last year in high school when I took a table tennis class. As a beginner, I always failed to hit the ball back, and spent most of the time picking up the balls which would jump all over the room. Every time it happened I wished there was some machine that would help me. One day, an idea came to my mind: since vacuum cleaners could vacuum up small things, I could make a similar machine to collect the balls. Through extensive experiments, failures and revisions, at the end of that semester, I finally succeeded. At that moment of accomplishment, besides the joy of success, I was also filled with confidence and determination. Since I could make a retrieval machine that made my life efficient, and gained a Certificate of Utility Model Patent for it, one day, I could also bring changes to people's daily lives. (For the patent number, see my accompanying CV)

It was precisely because of cherishing such an aspiration that I chose to double major in CS and Mathematics. To build up my solid knowledge in CS, I have taken almost all the related courses in Mathematics that the University *** (University Name) has offered, including: Cryptography, Probability and so on. Through taking these classes, I have developed a more algorithmic way of thinking and discovered there are many parallels between formal proofs and well written programs. For example: I must use axioms (the built-in structures and keywords) and proven theorems (unit tests) to prove the result (goal of the function). Therefore, my strong math background helps me not only with designing better programs and unit tests, but also with making optimizations more efficient with respect to time and storage. Furthermore, my knowledge of numerical analysis and linear algebra has made image processing and graphics programming much easier to learn and use during my lab experience.

Another experience that has prepared me for software programming is my time as an undergraduate teaching assistant for three semesters. It not only gave me a great opportunity to help and work with people from different backgrounds, but also developed my public speaking, communication skills, and confidence. I have gone from being afraid to hold office hours to being able to speak in front of a whole class of students during review sessions. It also improved my leadership skills, as I helped different groups of students to complete their tasks and diagnose what is needed. These leadership skills have been helpful in my team work, especially during my lab experience and CS classes.

My lab experience deepened my understanding of programming, especially in industry. I worked with Professor Name of Department Name in his Lab name. We focused on developing software tools to handle problems ranging from image reconstruction to failure mode prediction in materials, based on the professor's theoretical processing method and code. As the only undergraduate student on the team, working at the lab was full of challenges. To catch up with the lab members and develop Python and C++ executables, I taught myself Python, OpenCV, C++, Matplotlib, OpenGL and others through online resources while studying for summer classes and the GRE. This experience was overwhelming, but the result was rewarding. Through hard work with fellow lab members, I developed my first industrially relevant program, which makes tracking and calculation in digital images on the basis of Prof. Madenci's Peridynamics formalism. With the experience I gained, at the beginning of the new semester I could develop programs on my own based on the professor's instructions.

Working in the lab gave me valuable experience. It was different from things I have learned through academic projects. I learned the focus should be on realistic factors such as the maintainable code, professor and users' needs instead of how to achieve functions. At the same time, I also saw how important good teamwork and proper scheduling were. It also let me know how to better apply the knowledge I had learned. Through this experience, I became fascinated by computer vision and machine learning, especially when I figured out how to perform certain tasks based on the recognition of human hand gestures. Moreover, I decided to consider a career in these relevant topics after gaining a deeper understanding of how they have made our lives more efficient, such as Facebook's automatic friend tagging suggestions, and Google's ranking search results. I also recognized the indispensability of an advanced degree to be a professional programmer, especially in the rapidly evolving Computer Science field.

My undergraduate studies in both CS and Mathematics have provided me with a concrete background in CS. During graduate school, I'm looking forward to tackling advanced knowledge about Machine Learning, and also want to study Computer Vision, Graphics and other advanced topics. At the same time, I intend to find research and internships with hands-on experiences to apply theoretical knowledge into practice. After graduation, I hope to make significant contributions by developing machine learning applications, and discovering a new principle to take over repetitive tasks and offload distressing work onto machines, thus improving people's quality of life.

(This paragraph will be rewritten bases on different university)
The CIS/MSE program at the University of Pennsylvania especially entices me with its comprehensiveness in Computer Science and the flexible nature of the program with few core classes to take. Which means I could explore more topics I'm interested such as Machine Learning, Computer Vision, and Software Development to fill the requirement. Your research into Machine Learning also attracts me, and I hope that I can contribute my efforts to your research and accumulate my experience. Moreover, your program intends to prepare graduate students for industry. Which means, I could get exposure to practical problems, instead of being completely focused on theory. In conclusion, it is my belief a program from an esteemed university, like University of Pennsylvania, will help me realize my ambition of becoming a professional programmer and contribute my efforts to better the world.

I appreciate your attention and consideration in reading this statement.
qin6882060 1 / 7 2  
Nov 21, 2017   #2
... (CS), I became fascinated by how CS had bettered ...
At the same time it's vague, what time? When exactly is your"After witnessing blabla", I had doubted whether ...
... to hit backthe ball and spent ... balls which were jumping ... Every time when I retrieved it I wished there were some sort of ...

but also developed my presentation skills, communication ...
... on my own following the professor's instructions

Moreover, I decided to considerto persue a career ...

... especially entices mind the word, it's usually used in negative context me with its ... program with fewwhy few? core classes to take。

You can't start a new sentence this way Which means I could explore more topics of my interest such as ... to meet the requirement.
qin6882060 1 / 7 2  
Nov 21, 2017   #3
@Elaine9668
From my perspective, your structure is clear and well-organized (a very typical version).
Well, given your target schools are American tops, I'm not sure about if the length of your PS is Ok or your content is intriguing enough. I've studied in UK universities where the education system might not be quite the same. But I'm sure the UK admission would not like to read a PS over 1000 words, maybe US admins have a different perspective. For the content, I advise you to make up a more touching or intriguing story. To be honest, your story of table tennis might not make too much impression.

Try to be concise with your narrative and make your story distinctive. emmm, don't forget to conclude what makes you think you are a competent candidate in your conclusion(They read dozens of PS every day, so in most cases, they will not reread )

I hope you good luck and my last advice would be "never trust ZhongJie"


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