First Research Project

This semester, I did an independent study project and presented at the end-of-semester “Meeting of the Minds” event held at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science.

Throughout the semester, I worked with my advisor, Cori Faklaris–a Ph.D. student and Arnav Mahajan–another undergraduate, on our research project in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute.

Our overall goal was to find a way to predict user behavior regarding their personal cybersecurity actions. While computer applications may have many strong security measures in place, it is often the end user who is the weakest link. (They may accidentally share passwords or leave data unsecured)

Despite the multitude of different cybersecurity tools that exist (Password managers, Two Factor Authentication, general caution and awareness online, etc.) many users do not put these tools into practice. Prior research into the matter elaborates on many different theories and models of how users adapt to new technologies. One of the most relevant describes the notion of Security Sensitivity–a combination of a user’s awareness, motivation, and knowledge about cybersecurity tools and practices.

Our exploratory study attempts to measure this said Security Sensitivity and ultimately, as the project continues, use this measure to predict a user’s risky behavior before it occurs.

Read more about how we did this and our next steps in the poster below!

Machine Learning Tutorial

As I mentioned in my last post here, I interned at a startup this summer where I got to work on Machine Learning Models.

I compiled together the basic core ideas and concepts involved in creating a model like this from start-to-finish and made this fun tutorial: https://github.com/parmita52/machine-learning-spark-ex

Check it out!

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Numerify Summer Internship

This summer I was an intern at Numerify! Numerify is a tech startup providing a system of Intelligence for IT.

Image result for numerify logo

It was an incredible experience, and I learned so much in such a short period.
Numerify’s clients include companies such as Netflix, Coach, and McDonald’s. They use Business Intelligence and analytics tools to help their customers business manage their IT Data.

Over the course of the summer, I picked up a whole laundry list of acronyms used in the Business Intelligence (or should I say the BI) world:
RDMS – Relational Database Management System
ITSM – IT Service Management
ITPA – IT Product Analytics
SDA – Software Development Analytics
ETL – Extract Transform Load
APM – Appliance Performance Monitoring
SLA – Service Level Agreement
CSAT – Customer Satisfaction
GUID –  Global Unique ID
POM – Project Object Model
REST – Representational State Transfer
CRUD – Create, read, update and delete
ER – Entity Relationship
OLTP – Online Transaction Processing
CGI – Common Gateway Interface
RDD – Resilient Distributed Datasets
HDFS – Hadoop Distributed File System
MPP – Massively Parallel Processing
RAID – Redundant Array of Independent Disks
SME – Subject Matter Expert
ROC – Receiver Operating Characteristic

Of course, learning acronyms isn’t the only thing I did 🙂

My main project was building a Machine Learning model to predict when a customer’s incident escalated. Basically, an “incident” is when something goes wrong and it gets assigned to a certain level or “tier” to be solved. If the tier it was assigned to was not enough, it gets “escalated,”i.e. pushed up to an even higher tier. My goal was to build a model that could predict when an incident would be escalated before it happened.

I am still super excited about this because it is actually something that real customers will get to use in the future. Though I code almost all the time, most of it is either for personal stuff just for fun, or it is for school assignments. This internship experience gave me the opportunity to create something that will be used in the industry by consumers. It is an entirely new perspective. In the past, I only had to be concerned about the efficiency and correctness of my own code and that was it. Here, I had to make sure my code integrated with pre-existing workflows and tools. There were many moving parts to creating the project, and I had to contact different teams to gather needed information and data for certain steps. It’s amazing to know that my work will be used in an actual industry setting.

I started off with raw customer data and then created a Decision Tree and Random Forest Model to predict escalations about future data. I’ve elaborated on the process of creating a model more in this post along with a tutorial!

Along the way, I got to learn about a lot of different Machine Learning topics. Whenever I’m learning something new, I’m always on the hunt for the best visuals possible (I’m a very visual learner and truly believe a picture can benefit the learning process so much)

Here are some of the best visual explanations of certain topics I found:
Gini Impurity: https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-interpretation-and-intuitive-explanation-of-Gini-impurity-in-decision-trees
Bias vs. Variance: https://elitedatascience.com/bias-variance-tradeoff
Bagging and Boosting: https://quantdare.com/what-is-the-difference-between-bagging-and-boosting/

One topic I couldn’t find good visuals for was about using the Spark Machine Learning Pipeline (perhaps because it is such a niche topic).

So I made my own!

I have elaborated a lot more on how to use these in my tutorial here: https://github.com/parmita52/machine-learning-spark-ex

Overall, I am incredibly proud of my progress and accomplishments at Numerify, and I know it was a summer well spent!

Facebook Intern Summerfest!

I had so much fun today at the Facebook Intern Summerfest! Like a regular job fair, I got to talk to a lot of recruiters about potential work in the future. But unlike a regular job fair, I got to play games, hangout, and have casual conversations with people who actually work at Facebook.

I really loved talking to the Facebook employees. I was so cool to see their truthful inside perspective. The employees I met today all share the same spark and energy. They were all so excited to share more about their projects, their daily work schedule, and tips for college students like me, just starting off.

Overall it was such a fun experience that I wish I could share more! (but of course, gotta remember that NDA!)

Featured in SCS Day!

SCS Day is an annual celebration at Carnegie Mellon to showcase the diverse talents of students in the School of Computer Science. I submitted some of the comics I’ve made and I’m proud to say they were selected to be placed in the art gallery!

I had a lot of fun sharing my art with my classmates. I’m pretty used to hearing feedback from lots of anonymous people online, but it’s a completely different experience in person. I was floored when upperclassmen and TAs who I really look up to came up to me to say they liked my comics. It means a lot coming from them. 
I also had tons of fun during the event. Other than the Art Gallery, there was also a big Talent Show and it was so amazing! People showcased their musical talents (there was even a band of SCS students), magic tricks, and even acrobatics! 
Overall it was so much fun and I can’t wait to participate again next year 🙂

AP Statistics Visuals used in class

Back in high school, I created some visuals to help me learn AP Statistics. I am proud to say that the AP Statistics instructor has now included them in his curriculum.

I especially like this bottom one because it is a fun memorable way to remember lurking variables. While at first glance it may seem like having more TV’s increases a country’s life expectancy, with further thought it is clear that the lurking variable of wealth is affecting both of these.

I am really happy to know that my visuals are now going on to help other students for years to come. 

Making Girls Who Create Public

A couple summers ago, I made the Girls Who Create summer camp. I started from scratch and created a curriculum, schedule, slides, teaching material, demonstrations, and coded examples. It was one of the most amazing and most rewarding experiences of my entire life.

I hoped to do it again and continue the camp, but after moving across the country to college and seeing how quickly my breaks are now filling with internships, research, and extra work, I realized that I wouldn’t be able to continue to teach it in person. However, I still want to continue to spread the love of learning and make full use of the resources I created.

That is why I have shared the slides, schedules, and planning material on the girlswhocreate website,
in the hopes that others will be able to use these resources to go forth and create their own experience spreading the love of learning and creating.

On that page, I have compiled the major resources I created, from the teaching material like slides and code examples to logistical supplements like signs and attendance sheets.

Girls Who Create Link with further advice
Google Drive Link with teaching material

GitHub Link with example code
I truly hope that others will benefit and learn from my experiences and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future!

Meeting one of my idols!

I just met one of my artistic idols! I’ve been following Katherine Tsai aka http://chuwenjie.tumblr.com/ for a more than a couple years now and I have always admired her art. Especially the way she does gorgeous lighting effects and the way she uses color.
I recently found out that she also goes to CMU! And I was lucky enough to meet her right before she graduates and goes off to LA for her job at Dreamworks.



She was super sweet and told me fun stories about her times at CMU and an intern at Cartoon Network. She also drew and signed this little card for me! (which I will treasure forever! ❤ )



I think it’s amazing that through this stroke of serendipity I happened to meet her.

I’m so happy and grateful to have had that opportunity. And who knows? Maybe I’ll meet her again in California!?

Comic published in school newspaper!

I got one of my comics published in Carnegie Mellon’s school newspaper–The Tartan!


I’m super excited and hopefully, there’s more to come 🙂

Though it’s also fun posting it online and getting anonymous feedback from thousands of people, having a real, physical print copy of my work is a whole nother feeling. It feels good to have other people–people who I can really see and talk to–validate my work.