Summer and the science intern

While most people, especially students, are enjoying the vacation, at ScienceAtHome we are still working. A diverse group of scientists and game developers—and for the summer, we welcomed summer interns as well! One of them is Peter Lægdsmand, who has just finished his 2nd year in Physics at Aarhus University. During the last week of his internship, I had a brief chat with Peter and asked him about his project and experience with our team.

How did you first hear about ScienceAtHome?
P: “Two years ago when I started the university in Aarhus, I heard Jacob (the ScienceAtHome group leader) giving a talk about his research, building a quantum computer and designing computer games to solve problems in quantum physics. I didn’t know anything about quantum mechanics that time but it raised my interest. I thought I had to learn more about this! It’s exciting that such an experiment is going on near me, at the university!

Half a year ago, during my introductory course to quantum mechanics, we had to do some projects and one of them was Jacob presenting the problem of optimizing paths for finding quantum speed limit. It was a rather short, one-week project but a very compelling one. Jacob also gave a speech about his research and Quantum Moves. I found the game really engaging. I’ve downloaded it to my phone and played it a lot.

For me, Quantum mechanics was probably the most interesting class at the university so far. I was really eager to tell about it to my family and friends and just share with everyone what I was working on. I contacted Jacob this spring if I could join his team for an internship. That time I wasn’t completely sure what I would be working on. I found it out only after my exams, before the summer.”

So, what was your project about?
P: “I started working at the beginning of July and spent the whole month with the ScienceAtHome team. My project was about predicting the optimization results of player seeds from Bring Home Water (the 13th level of Quantum Moves). We have a huge amount of data from more than 200,000 players. We noticed that if we wanted to optimize all the seeds (the path of user solutions to the challenges of Quantum Moves), that would probably take years. Nanna Ravn Rasmussen has already worked on this problem while writing her master thesis and optimized almost 40,000 seeds. So, the question that I was trying to explore is whether we can predict a given path is going to be a particularly good solution, which is worth the effort of the optimization process. It is a hard challenge. I was trying to extract many properties and see if there is any pattern to discover. I couldn’t really find a single feature which determines whether the path is good or bad. However, we can definitely say that if the path has certain properties, it is more likely to be an efficient one.

It’s difficult for a single person to recognize these patterns, so a large part of the project is to train the computer to do it! I was working on machine learning algorithms, teaching the computer to find these patterns. The algorithm goes through thousands of seeds, learns them and searches patterns. This way we can choose a subset of seeds which will then go through the optimization process. Hopefully, the best paths are going to be among those!”

How was your experience joining this diverse team?
P: “I was fascinated by how diverse the team is. Not only physicists and game developers, but also social scientists, anthropologists, and psychologists. I’m grateful for this opportunity and I learned a lot, the people I worked with were really generous with their knowledge and shared a lot with me.The novelty of this project, and the hands-on experience, which I’m not used to, was very useful for me. I also like the approach to the outreach here! There are so many researches which never get out to the public.”

Peter’s summer adventure at ScienceAtHome was short and after some well-deserved vacation, he is continuing his studies at Aarhus University. Who knows, we might see him again during his thesis writing or at least as an old friend dropping by our offices. Anyhow, good luck in the future and thank you for your work with us!

Are you a scientist, programmer, game developer or an artist? Our diverse group is opened to new talents. Check out our new job page for new internships, thesis project proposals or job openings!

Patrícia from ScienceAtHome

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Summer and the science intern
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