SciPy 2015: Live from Austin, Texas

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This summer I was given the awesome opportunity to visit Austin, TX for the annual SciPy conference hosted by the University of Texas. This conference focuses, as it’s name might imply, on scientific uses for the Python programming language. This included data science talks, data visualization talks, machine learning talks, as well as a variety of tutorials that ranged from basic to advanced applications of the language.

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The AT&T Conference Center on the University of Texas campus hosted the 2015 SciPy conference

For the three days that I was there I got to see three awesome keynote speakers which were the Chief Data Scientist from the NY Times, the creator of Pandas (a core scientific package for Python), and the Director of Research in the Physical Sciences for University of Washington’s eScience institute. Outside of the keynote talks, I focused on learning more about data visualization, efficient data structures for “big data,” and calculation optimization in Python. One of the coolest tools I learned about was a visualization tool called VisPy that can handle advanced graphical renderings. I was fortunate enough to also attend a few talks for fun that didn’t directly relate to my research. I chose to spend those talks learning more about machine learning and general astrophysical applications of python.

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This is a close up of a plot of 1000 signal plots generated using VisPy, a powerful visualization tool that uses the GPU as opposed to the CPU to render graphics

While at the conference, one of the special events I attended was the job fair. There were tons of companies from industries ranging from software development to finance. I have been interested in computational finance for the past few years, so I focus a lot of my attention towards those companies. I was fortunate enough to interview with three quantitative finance firms, AQR, D.E. Shaw, and Jump Trading and many of the skills that I have learned in my summer research experiences through HHMI and Gettysburg College were quite impressive to their recruiters. I was one of a handful of undergraduates at the conference and almost certainly the only one with multiple summer research experiences. Those experiences, depending on the outcome of the job applications, could directly lead to an employment opportunity which just shows the power and usefulness of the interdisciplinary research program at Gettysburg.

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D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P. is a global investment management firm founded in 1988 by David E. Shaw and based in New York City

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AQR Capital Management is an investment management firm founded in 1998 by former Goldman Sachs portfolio manager Clifford S. Asness along with partners David Kabiller, John Liew and Robert Krail

Outside of the conference I was able to get to see as much of Austin as I could walk to. I toured many of the local restaurants including the famous Torchy’s Tacos as well as the Clay Pit.

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These places both boasted some of the finest food I have ever had. Torchy’s Tacos, as you can guess specialized in Tacos and I ended up eating an unnamed item from the secret menu. As suspect as that might sound, I can assure you it was the best taco I’ve ever had in my life. The Clay Pit was a much more traditional dining experience than Torchy’s but the food was equally good. I hadn’t experienced much Indian food up until that point but it is a place I would definitely visit any time I’m in Austin.

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