Hi from London

January 2, 2011
by Philip Kwok (ppkwok)

Hi All,

My name is Philip Kwok and I graduated from Hampshire in 2000. After Hampshire, I was very excited to start working at Sun Microsystems Laboratories (their research lab), where I was building speech engines, like text-to-speech systems and speech recognizers. One of our ‘products’, the Java version of the CMU Sphinx speech recognizer (v4), is still widely used by a lot of practitioners and researchers. To this day, it is still the most interesting project I’ve ever worked on (I’m really hoping something will surpass it in the future).

After years at Sun, I began wondering what a real world production environment is like. I was also intrigued by finance, so I moved to London and took up a job at Goldman Sachs. Life there was havoc, as you’ll be fixing bugs at trader’s desks everyday, or trying to figure why some trade didn’t price correctly under extreme time constraints. I went from research where there are no production deadlines, to trading where the deadline can be the next hour.

I decided that banking is just not for me, it pays but its unrewarding. This past September, I started an MSc in Machine Learning at University College London (UCL). Its the most difficult area in computer science I’ve encountered (imagine algorithms + statistics + linear algebra), and they go at lightning pace (its a 1-year program). I’m really enjoying it, and I’m hoping to work in this area afterwards. I’ll try to keep you posted!

Philip



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