We did – in our paper titled “Beyond rankings: comparing directed acyclic graphs” (pdf) which I’ll be presenting at the ECML PKDD conference in Portugal next month. This was the first project of my PhD, but there’s also something else that makes it fundamentally different from the other research projects I’ve been involved with.
Typically, when I undertake a research project, I have a concrete question, like what is the next location a person will visit, to which I start looking for different solutions. In other words, I begin with a nail and start looking for a suitable hammer. However, this time we started by developing a cool new hammer with some neat theoretical properties before we had any idea if a suitable nail even exists. Continue reading
Usually, when I think I’ve come up with a great idea, I wait until the next day to see if it still seems as good. Most of the time it doesn’t. However, when Arno Solin first told me about the HisKi database, which contains digitized church records (births, deaths, marriages, migration) from Finland spanning from the 1600s to the late 1800s, and the analysis possibilities this data could offer, I immediately felt compelled to start working on it, and the next day I was even more excited.
Eventually, I told my professor about the idea and we decided that I would start my PhD research around the questions arising from the HisKi dataset. Other people also liked the idea and so I was chosen to present my research in a pitching competition called Falling Walls Lab in Berlin a few months ago (Aalto news wrote about my trip here). Here’s a video of my two and a half minutes presentation where I explain what kind of research questions I’m aiming to address.
Let me start with an easier question: rappers and physicists – what do they have in common? Apart from the fact that I’m moderately passionate about both rap and physics, there’s one obvious similarity: rappers and physicists are both very active collaborators. I’d say that rappers feature in each other’s songs much more often than artists of other genres do and physicists, on the other hand, have sometimes up to several hundreds of co-authors in their papers! Continue reading