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UT Dallas CS Student REU Success Story: Nishant Gurrapadi

Nishant Gurrapadi is a senior majoring in Computer Science. In 2018, he participated in the AMALTHEA Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program at Florida Institute of Technology and studied Swarm Intelligence techniques. More precisely, this involved the study of the social behavior of artificial agents in each of the component algorithms at different snapshots of time using Network Science metrics. Estimating the number of hidden layers in a Neural Network and finding the shortest path between two places are a few examples of where Swarm Intelligence is used.

Below is a short summary he wrote about his time participating in the AMALTHEA REU Program at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and how the REU program benefitted him:

“During the summer of 2018, I had the opportunity to participate in a 10-week Machine Learning REU program at Florida Institute of Technology (FIT). FIT is located in the city of Melbourne, which is about an hour south of Orlando. Melbourne is located right on the coast, which made it a great place to be for the summer, as I visited the beach almost every weekend.

My project was to study swarm intelligence techniques using the structural properties of social interactions. Swarm Intelligence, is a small subset of Artificial Intelligence inspired by the collective behavior exhibited by swarms in nature, such as ants, bees, and fish. I studied some of the well-known, swarm-based algorithms with the goal of understanding how the artificial agents in each of these algorithms behave at different moments in time. Studying the social interactions allows us to better understand how to parameterize these algorithms and make them more easily usable. Swarm Intelligence has wide-ranging applications among which a few are: estimating the number of hidden layers in a neural network and finding the shortest path between two places.

Nishant Gurrapadi (second on the right) on the day of his project presentation.

Throughout the internship, I had multiple opportunities to speak with other graduate students and discuss their research projects with them. This gave me good exposure to what it’s like to be a full-time PhD student. It was a great experience, and I would not have been able to do it without the support of my professors at UT Dallas. I would strongly recommend everyone in a STEM-related field to consider going to REU programs as it affords the rare opportunity for undergraduates to do research full time.”


ABOUT THE UT DALLAS COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT

The UT Dallas Computer Science program is one of the largest Computer Science departments in the United States with over 2,400 bachelors-degree students, more than 1,000 master’s students, 150 Ph.D. students,  53 tenure-track faculty members and 38 full-time senior lecturers, as of Fall 2017. With The University of Texas at Dallas’ unique history of starting as a graduate institution first, the CS Department is built on a legacy of valuing innovative research and providing advanced training for software engineers and computer scientists.

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