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UVirginia Data Science Statement Of Purpose


Jan 22, 2021   #1

University of Virginia sop essay



My fascination for data science began in my sophomore year, when I signed up as a research assistant for Professor Oindrila Dey. At the time, I had only taken the introductory course in programming, and had basic statistical and calculus knowledge. Through enthusiasm for my first assistantship, I learnt R and Tableau in two weeks and began producing various, insightful data visualizations, which were used in the final version of my professor's paper: "Is Electric Street Car a Sustainable Public Transport System in India? A Demand Side Analysis".

With this newfound passion, I wanted to gather more experience in data science, therefore after multiple interviews, I landed an internship at Jash Data Sciences. I developed an end-to-end web application, which combined a U-Net CNN model and locality sensitive hashing algorithm to provide similar jewellery designs given an input image. I also worked on designing algorithms to extract and store vital information from public notices in a secure, structured database for the local municipal corporation.

Having worked in the professional sector, I was determined to contribute my data analytical skills for social good. Hence, I secured my second internship with WageIndicator, a foundation based in Amsterdam, whose mission is to provide labour market transparency for all employers and employees. I led the Data Analysis team, comprising of 10 student interns, to create and derive meaningful insights from salary and minimum wage datasets spanning several countries, primarily using STATA and Tableau. Along with the interns, I communicated with experts in data analysis from Italy and Netherlands to deliver meaningful data stories, published on the organisation website. I was amazed by the reach of data, and worked on more academic-oriented data projects; such as modelling the HIV/AIDS epidemic until 2050. For my undergraduate thesis, I explore an unprecedented approach to train a deep learning model on weather images to forecast temperature.

Through the multiple projects I took, both academic and professional, I have enjoyed the interdisciplinary approaches used to provide solutions to real-world problems. I intend to further explore the confluence of machine learning and predictive modelling with other fields such as public policy, healthcare and politics. The University of Virginia's Masters in Data Science program is my first choice because of its comprehensive course outline. I believe my strong mathematical and statistical background has given me the tools to excel in courses such as STAT 6021 and SYS 6016. I am specifically interested in researching a problem in politics under the guidance of Professor Jonathan Krapko and even work on employing simulations with Professor Gerard Learmonth for the capstone projects.

Upon graduation from the University of Virginia, I will be a competent data scientist, and I intend to join government organisations and/or thinktanks where I am confident that I shall contribute by providing effective data-driven solutions to policy-making problems.

Holt  Educational Consultant - / 10,324 3356  
Jan 23, 2021   #2
You have a strong academic background. However, you are mistaking the internship for a professional experience which, even if completed as a paid intern, is still a part of your academic development. Therefore, there is a missing link in the essay. The purpose you have is all academic in nature, making you a professional student. Do you not have any ambitions of parlaying these learning into say, your own research or survey firm? What is the actual purpose for your studies aside from pursuing your passion in this area? Sure your research, as a team, was published. That shows a passion for research. Then what? Although you may qualify based on the academic aspects, does your purpose qualify your background? Right now, I do not see the two in a direct relationship. How does the academic pursuit help your idea, it is not even an ambition or a purpose in this instance since you mentioned it at the very end of the essay, of joining a government organization? I mean, you actually made the purpose an afterthought, without any explanations to support your idea of joining the government. I hope this is just a draft because if you plan to submit this, you are not getting into the program.
OP MSDataScAspirant 1 / 1  
Jan 25, 2021   #3
I'm afraid that was my final SOP for that application, my deadline was approaching, and I could not get time to work on it much.

Could you look at my updated, reworked essay which I intend on submitting to New York University:

One night, while travelling in Cologne, Germany, I was stuck at the ATM unable to withdraw money, because all the instructions were in German and there were no English-speaking civilians nearby. Just when I was about to head back, it struck me that I could take images and use Google Translate. I successfully withdrew money and Google Translate became my entrusted tool to comprehend and communicate for the rest of my trip. This experience led me to believe that Artificial Intelligence would connect people from different cultures and automate several processes. In particular, I am fascinated by the field of computer vision, and believe we have just scratched the surface of its capabilities. I believe computer vision models would be able to discern more from images than the human visual system and benefit several people across multiple domains.

With this newfound passion, I wanted to gather more experience in computer vision and other data science techniques. Therefore, after multiple interviews, I landed an internship at Jash Data Sciences, where I primarily researched image segmentation and classification models. I applied my learnings by developing an end-to-end web application to find similar jewellery image designs, given an input image. The model extracted image encodings from a U-Net CNN model in FastAI and Keras, and then I implemented a locality sensitive hashing algorithm for quick, efficient real-time nearest neighbour search optimization. I also assisted in developing a Retina-net model to detect out of stock or misplaced products from retail shelves in real-time. Towards the end of my internship, I designed efficient algorithms to extract and store vital information from public notices in a secure, structured database for the local municipal corporation.

Having worked in the professional sector, I was determined to contribute my data analytical skills for social good. Hence, I secured my second internship with WageIndicator, a foundation based in Amsterdam, whose mission is to provide labour market transparency for all employers and employees. I led the Data Analysis team for a period of 7 months, comprising of 10 student interns, to create and derive meaningful insights from salary and minimum wage datasets spanning several countries. Along with the interns, I communicated with experts in data analysis from Italy and Netherlands to deliver meaningful stories through data visualisations, published on the organisation website. I was amazed by the reach of data, and worked on additional academic-oriented data projects, such as modelling the HIV/AIDS epidemic in 6 countries over the next 30 years.

My goal in computer vision is to extend existing models, and explore the confluence with predictive learning, to produce results which can be used across multiple domains such as weather forecasting, healthcare, retail management. With this goal in mind, I work on my undergraduate thesis, wherein I explore an unprecedented approach in weather forecasting by combining a U-Net model with a discriminator GAN on 3-dimensional weather images to forecast temperature, wind direction and velocity.

Through the multiple projects I took, both academic and professional, I have enjoyed the interdisciplinary approaches used to provide solutions to real-world problems. The Master of Science in Data Science program at New York University is my first choice because of its comprehensive course outline and project opportunities. I believe my strong mathematical and statistical background has given me the tools to excel in courses such as DS-GA 1002 and DS-GA 1013. I am specifically interested in researching computer vision under the guidance of Professor Yann LeCun and Professor Rob Fergus. I want to even implement each of their work in image segmentation to my research in weather forecasting using deep learning models.

I believe my academic and professional background have prepared me to succeed in your demanding courses. I am keen in collaborating with your student community with my passion in community service, music, squash and badminton. I am confident that upon graduation from the M.S. in Data Science program from New York University, I shall be a competent data scientist, and be prepared to undertake my research ambitions.


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