Now that I’m over halfway through the SDM program, it’s definitely time for me to get beyond just thinking about thesis topics and actually hunting for a thesis advisor and doing some serious background reading. And thus I finally had a meeting today to get that going. And now I have a new pile of papers to hunt for, sit down and read through. It seems like the general idea is somewhat solid, though which is nice. The worry you always have is that what you’ve been thinking about is something where all the work has already been done. It certainly doesn’t look like that’s the case, so now onto the next set of reading for it.
Three weeks in and the semester is certainly barreling along at full speed. At this point, I think I’ve had enough sessions of each class to be able to have an actual opinion about them.
System Optimization – this is one of the required SDM courses and I’m actually finding that it really isn’t that interesting for me. It’s all about solving linear programming problems, but doing so using the built-in Solver functionality of Excel or various add-ons. While I guess that using Excel is fine for simple cases and therefore a lot of what people hit and want to do, to me, it’s just kind of annoying. I’m tempted to pull out the numerical methods book from my book case and write my own solver for the next problem set Especially as Excel (/OpenOffice.org Calc) annoy me a bit. It’s only a half semester course, though, so I’ll just go through it and get the bits and pieces needed done.
Evolution to Web 3.0 – this is a new Sloan course and is turning out to be pretty good. A lot of the discussion in the class shows that there are definitely a lot of people who have passionate interest around what’s going on on the web for today and tomorrow, which I think is increasingly important. There is (thus far at least) something of a lack of discussion of some of the hard questions around ownership and privacy, but I’m hopeful that we can have some harder discussions around those as the semester progresses. While it meets for three hours (once a week), I’m finding that the time passes pretty quickly which is always good. The only real downside is that some of the examples that we’re starting with are older, but the discussion tends to drive towards more current happenings. I am pretty skeptical of the Web 3.0 label, though — I think a more accurate description of the course would be something around Emerging Business and Technology Trends on the Web instead of trying to bracket it with a buzzword.
My final course is Game Theory Applied to Strategic Decision Making at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. This has been a fun class — the crowd is different than both the SDM cohort or your typical Sloanie and so some of the discussions go in very different ways. Also, there are some group assignments and I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to network with some KSG people. The professor is also very animated and clearly enjoys talking about the subject. Keeping my trend, the one thing I’d personally change about the course would be to make it a little bit more mathematically rigorous — but I’m pretty sure that’s my bias showing through again and I intentionally didn’t try to do a super-mathematically rigorous game theory course.
So yeah, things are moving along. I’m even at this point caught up with what needs to be done and hopefully can stay slightly ahead from here on out. I’ve also started to have some discussions so that I can get going on my thesis and have it finished by the end of the year. I feel pretty comfortable right now with the timing for getting that done.