Finally, a lighter semester.

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Yet another fun semester of orchestra at UT. For our first concert, we played Sibelius' *Finlandia* and Kalinnikov's Symphony No. 1. For the second concert, we played Glinka's *Ruslan and Ludmila Overture*, *PellĂ©as et MĂ©lisande* by FaurĂ©, and Gang & Zhanhao's *Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto*, with a featured *erhu* soloist for the final piece. I was unexpectedly given an eight-measure solo in the *Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto*, which I enjoyed playing. My sister and I were reunited as orchestra colleagues once again, which further enhanced the whole semester experience.

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Although there was no official "orchestra for credit" opportunity in ZĂĽrich, I joined the Akademisches Orchester ZĂĽrich (AOZ) during my exchange semester. Rehearsals were conducted entirely in (Swiss) German, which was an excellent opportunity to practice my listening and counting skills. We played Glinka's *Ruslan and Ludmila Overture*, the 1919 version of *The Firebird Suite* by Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6 (the *PathĂ©tique Symphony*). We performed our final concert in the Tonhalle ZĂĽrich, which was quite memorable given that one of my first experiences in ZĂĽrich was attending an orchestra concert at the Tonhalle during my first weekend there.

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Another fun semester of orchestra! We played Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 1 (*Winter Dreams*), Brahms' *Academic Festival Overture*, Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 (*Eroica*), and Verdi's *Overture to Nabucco*. I also played in two Christmas concerts with a subset of the orchestra along with the university's choirs. The highlight from the Christmas concerts was playing "Trepak Dance" from Tchaikovsky's *The Nutcracker* and absolutely nailing it during the second concert.

I shortsightedly set the maximum length of the `professor` field in the database to fifty characters. I'd prefer not to edit my SQLite database's schema -- luckily, I was able to fit all three conductors' names by removing the "and."

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If every other class taught me to think critically and deeply, this one was basically just "applied neoliberalism." Ethically dubious, but interesting content and a great overview of modern-day business practices in the US. Each week, we had a guest speaker from the Texan (or American) business community talk about some aspect of corporate governance, including auditing, crisis and risk management, compliance, executive compensation, philanthropy, and investment.

Excellent class. Relevant blog post.

The adiabatic algorithm, stabilizer quantum computing, universality and magic states, fermions and bosons, quantum state tomography, black hole information theory, and more. This was a new course and is the sequel to E S 377. We covered topics at a much faster clip and often referenced papers written in the past ten years. Much of the complexity theory went over my head, though I tried to follow along as best as I could. I was also slightly lost during the section on quantum state tomography, but it started to make sense once I understood how learning theory was being applied.

Electrostatics and magnetostatics, Maxwell's equations, propagation in free space and lossless and lossy materials, and transmission lines (and Smith charts). The electrostatics/magnetostatics was largely review from AP Physics C, but I appreciated learning about the duality of inductances and capacitances per unit length of parallel plate and coaxial systems (without the permittivity and permeability constants, they are reciprocal). The middle third of the course was using all kinds of math to do cool things like deriving boundary conditions at material interfaces and analyzing TEM waves in time and space as they propagated through space over time. And the final third of the course (lossy wave propagation and transmission lines) was especially interesting for me because it was entirely new material.

A lot of electromagnetics is also simply "fun with vector calculus and phasors" so this continued the streak from E E 302 and E E 411 of "EE = math with rules."

Research for credit, which was helpful for making me allocate enough time per week for research (rather than having it get squeezed out by other coursework). Details about my projects are on the homepage. I went to the lab at the Microelectronics Research Center twice a week, either via bus (usually about forty minutes down Lamar and and very bumpy) or with a labmate (twenty minutes in the passenger seat).

For the first concert of the semester, we played Florence Price's Symphony No. 1 and accompanied a solo cellist for Tchaikovsky's *Variations on a Rococo Theme*. For the final concert, we played *Masquerade Suite* by Khatchaturian as well as Britten's *Four Sea Interludes*. Also a very enjoyable semester.

Linear algebra on various vector spaces and inner product spaces, and properties of hermitian / unitary / symmetric / orthogonal matrices and their adjoints.

Not too difficult, but my only prior linear algebra course was via an online textbook through a community college, so this was a decent way to formally fill in any gaps in my linear algebra knowledge.

The later chapters of the book (which I read after the semester since we didn't cover them in class) presented some interesting material on the spectral theorem, Fourier transforms (from the perspective of linear algebra rather than EE), and Green's functions.

Lots of group theory, some ring theory, and a little bit of fields. The course was not too taxing (one weekly ten-problem homework set), but I did learn quite a bit via the lectures and the homework problems. I also discovered that my self-study had (unsurprisingly) left me with a number of gaps in my knowledge -- for example, I think I just completely skipped over the Sylow theorems during my Artin read-through.

I also found it amusing to tell people I was taking Algebra I.

Part two of Plan II's two-part sophomore philosophy sequence (second semester here). After starting with Descartes' *Meditations on First Philosophy*, we discussed metaphysics for a few lectures. We spent the final month on more applied ethics, including free speech, gun control, cultural appropriation, and immigration, to name a few areas. The final few lectures exposed me to a few interesting modern philosophers (I found Huemer most interesting) whose other writings I briefly explored after finishing the semester. This semester was also held over Zoom, but once again the chatbox proved helpful in enabling class discussions.

Crystal lattices, phonons and vibrational modes, free electron gas, energy bands, semiconductor crystals, magnetism, and superconductivity. The class was challenging, and it was interesting to have a physics-centered perspective on some of the solid-state topics I had first learned in E E 339 and E E 334K.

Analysis of signals and systems in the time and frequency domains, using Fourier series, discrete and continuous convolution, and various transforms in the discrete and continuous time domains. I became quite proficient in MATLAB over the course of the semester, due to our using it for all of the homework sets and projects. I had briefly worked with the Laplace and Fourier transforms in the past, so it was nice to see a signals perspective this time around (for example, how to analyze the stability of a system by looking at the location of poles of the Laplace and Z transforms).

The course also piqued my interest in Fourier Analysis -- the math in this course wasn't too proofy, but I was interested anyway, so I subsequently started reading Stein/Shakarchi, Part I.

Basic quantum mechanical systems (particle-in-a-box and quantum harmonic oscillator), atoms, and molecules, with some solid-state physics (Bloch's theorem), statistical mechanics (including derivations of the important distributions in the statistical limit), semiconductor devices, quantum mechanics of charged particles under electromagnetic fields (with a little discussion of gauge theory), time-dependent perturbation theory, and optical transitions (and Fermi's golden rule). I am impressed and amazed by how many topics we managed to cover in one semester without needing to gloss over any of them. This was definitely a great course for getting a simultaneously comprehensive and thorough background in all things quantum.

Incidentally, the content was also directly applicable to my other courses. In particular, we derived the 1D, 2D, and 3D electronic density of states formulas on one of the homework sets, so in addition to being interesting problems these also were useful for me in PHY 375S the next semester. There were also quite a few connections/overlaps with E E 348 (which I took concurrently), including stimulated emission and absorption -- since we took a semiclassical approach there, it was nice to also get the quantum treatment here later in the semester.

Ray tracing and ABCD matrices, Gaussian beam propagation, optical cavities and various cavity parameters (such as quality factor and finesse), light-matter interaction (blackbody radiation and Einstein coefficients), lineshape broadening, gain and criteria for lasing, saturation, output power, various short-pulse lasers, practical laser systems, and semiconductor lasers. Lots of topics for a semester, but the lectures were very easy to follow and comprehensive. For the final project, I talked about silicon photonics and its applications to quantum key distribution.

Although we were given several weeks to complete each of the homework assignments, I routinely procrastinated until the due date (I would start after midnight to hit a 9:00 am deadline). Regardless, the homework problems were challenging and educational, and the exams problems were interesting as well.

This was also my first mixed undergraduate/graduate class, and it was nice to be surrounded by grad students.

A first course in quantum information, with a computer science tilt. We started with a review of important concepts from linear algebra (including braket notation) before moving on to quantum gates, measurement, entanglement, quantum money, and several QKD protocols. We then took a brief diversion to discuss mixed states, Bloch sphere, and universality of gate sets. Finally, we discussed some quantum algorithms, including Deutsch-Jozsa, Bernstein-Vazirani, the Quantum Fourier Transform, Shor's algorithm, and Grover's algorithm, before ending with a couple lectures on quantum error correction and fault tolerance.

My favorite algorithm was Shor's algorithm (in fact, I implemented an interactive version of it in MATLAB for fun). But I ran into a little bit of trouble with the next homework set (on Grover's algorithm) because about a third of the problems (plus some substantial extra credit) involved proving complexity bounds for various variations of the algorithm. Maybe the unenforced algorithms prerequisite would have come in handy.

In any case, this was an enjoyable introduction to quantum computing, though it was helpful to have a strong linear algebra foundation and some prior exposure to quantum mechanics via self-studying Griffiths.

For the first concert, we played SuppĂ©'s *Light Cavalry Overture* and DvoĹ™Ăˇk's Symphony No. 6. For the second concert, we played *SensemayĂˇ* by Revueltas and Borodin's Symphony No. 2. Overall a very fun experience, it's great to have a musical outlet in the middle of a challenging academic week. Also, very convenient -- rehearsals were from 19:00 to 20:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, nicely out of the way from most possible conflicts.

Part one of Plan II's two-part sophomore philosophy sequence (second semester here). We discussed the existence of a God, free will, knowledge, various ethical frameworks, and some contemporary applied ethics problems (such as famine aid and euthanasia). The readings were quite interesting, and although the course was held over Zoom, we were able to maintain live(ly) discussion and debate of the lecture topics via the chatbox.

Basic kinematics and dynamics, all kinds of oscillators (linear, nonlinear, damped, driven, etc.), Euler-Lagrange equations, Hamiltonian mechanics, non-inertial reference frames, and rigid body motion. This class was held on Zoom at 8am, so I (partially successfully) tried to attend. Some of the early content was review from differential equations (mostly second-order linear non-homogenous differential equations -- phase portraits came in handy a couple times), but it was nice to get formal treatment of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics. Also, I enjoyed learning about non-inertial reference frame and fictitious forces, and the rigid body motion at the end was neat as well.

Combinatorics, counting, probability, expectation values, variance, limit theorems, statistical inference, and some stochastic processes like Bernoulli, Poisson, and Markov. I was first introduced to the idea of Markov chains in middle school while reading *The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball*, so it was neat to see the mathematical formalism and finally understand how the authors were actually conducting their analysis. Solid class overall and very interesting topics, I definitely want to take the next random processes course at some point.

An introduction to number theory, with divisibility, modular arithmetic, p-adic valuations, the Chinese Remainder Theorem, and a little bit of Legendre symbols and quadratic reciprocity near the end. I enjoyed the class and especially appreciated how ring theory was introduced throughout the course. Incidentally, I was reading the latter third of Artin at the same time I was taking this course, so it was amusing to see many of the same ring-theoretical definitions and theorems presented in a different manner.

A continuation of the previous semester's course, with an emphasis on criminality (Fyodor Dostoevsky's *Crime and Punishment* and Michelle Alexander's *The New Jim Crow*) and redemption (Sindiwe Magona's *Mother to Mother*) this semester. The course began right after the January 6th US Capitol Attack and a day before the inauguration of President Biden, which were both very germane to our course themes, so our first essay covered divisiveness, racial equality, human rights, and human dignity in the context of those events. Of the six essays I wrote during both semesters, this was my favorite!

An overview of the C programming language, and an introduction to C++. This class was paired with E E 319H, so we spent less time here on C syntax and more on understanding things like the heap and memory allocation. To that end, about half of each lecture involved visual diagrams of data structures and algorithms, which I thought was incredibly useful. Weekly programming assignments were also an effective, hands-on approach to solidifying my understanding of the language.

Roughly, a continuation of the first half of E E 306. Boolean algebra, combinational and sequential logic circuits, finite and high-level state machines and datapath components, and timing constraints and hazards. Labs were written in Verilog and simulated and flashed onto FPGAs using Xilinx Vivado. Our final project was a programmable stopwatch and timer, which was a great exercise in modular design. I spent most of my time tinkering with RTL and watching how each change would influence the elaborated block design schematic that Vivado would generate.

Empirically, this class is also incredibly helpful for getting an internship/job. My summer 2022 internship offers were all partially due to solid technical interviews that relied on content and skills I first learned in this class.

An introduction to embedded systems, covering C, C++, and ARM assembly, timers and interrupts, analog and digital signal conversion, practical applications of Ohm's Law, and everything in between. My favorite lab was the Piano DAC. The honors section was paired with E E 312H so we wrote the last few labs in C++. For our final project, my partner and I made Super Mario on the TM4C (video link).

Semiconductor properties, basic 1D quantum mechanics and wavefunctions, band gaps and Fermi levels, charge carrier drift and diffusion, p-n junctions, FETs, BJTs, and some basic optoelectronics. In theory, perhaps freshman spring is too early to take the course, but the material is relatively self-contained and manageable with the prerequisites (differential equations and electricity and magnetism). The textbook was co-written by the professor and was a solid resource, and the homework was good preparation for the exams.

A second class in circuits, with a focus on first- and second-order circuits. Lovingly dubbed "E E 011" because the only work each week was either a five-to-ten-problem homework set or a short LTSpice simulation and lab writeup. Much like E E 302 was mostly algebra, this class was mostly setting up first- and second-order differential equations and solving them with the appropriate initial conditions, which I enjoyed as well.

Differential equations with an emphasis on nonlinear systems, PDEs, and boundary value problems, but more generally on building mathematical intuition rather than learning cookbook formulas. This class and World Literature met at the same time, so I watched the recordings for these lectures in the evenings instead. The exam format was similar to my class last semester with the same professor. The final few lectures introduced some interesting topics from physics like Hermitian operators and the quantum harmonic oscillator, which inspired me to purchase Griffiths.

A novel treatment of ethics and race (guided by *The Ethics and Mores of Race* by Naomi Zack), examining books from the "typical" literature curriculum alongside ones from Black studies covering similar themes. â€‹Part one of Plan II's two-part freshman World Literature sequence (second semester here). This semester covered slavery (we read *Adventures of Huckleberry Finn* by Mark Twain and *Beloved* by Toni Morrison) and bioethics (Mary Shelley's *Frankenstein* and *The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks* by Rebecca Skloot). The small class size and seminar format enabled many interesting class discussions, in spite of the class being held via Zoom.

An introduction to electrical engineering, with a focus on resistor circuits and some op-amps near the end. Quite fun since I enjoy solving systems of equations and doing lots of algebra. One of my favorite parts of the course was speed-running through practice problems with my friends before each exam.

This was the honors section of E E 302. Interspersed throughout the semester were interesting topics outside the standard curriculum, such as transistors, transfer functions, linear systems, and two-port networks. The last couple lectures covered various nonlinear circuit elements such as p-n junctions, and if I recall correctly, learning these topics (while reading my pre-ordered copy of Streetman/Banerjee) is what firmly tipped me towards taking E E 339 the next semester.

Unfortunately, this conflicted with the discussion section of M 427L-H (which I wasn't planning to attend), and I didn't have enough political capital as a pre-freshman to convince the department to approve a time-conflict override. Regardless, I was able to audit the course and attend the lectures, thanks to Dr. Bank!

An introduction to computing, starting with transistors and gates and building up to finite state machines before moving to a toy ISA called LC-3. The first half was enjoyable and piqued my interest in FSMs (I took E E 316 the next semester). And in the second half, the 15-opcode instruction set, although limited, led to fun puzzles like replicating the missing OR and XOR instructions in only 3 and 5 instructions, respectively, only using AND, ADD, and NOT.

An accelerated vector calculus course for first-semester freshmen who scored a 5 on the AP Calculus BC exam, covering Taylor's theorem in multiple dimensions and Hessian matrices, Jacobian matrices, Lagrange multipliers, Fubini's theorem, paths, surfaces, and parametrization, vector theorems, and more. Lots of interesting topics with applications to physics, especially electricity and magnetism. Each of the three required (plus one optional) take-home exams consisted of several multi-part proofs and calculations as well as some short-answer prompts about our academic interests and aspirations, which I thought was a unique creative outlet, especially for a math class. The final few lectures explored differential forms, which I thought were quite neat. Also, having a peer group of highly motivated math students was exciting.

An introduction to the criminal justice system, current outcomes of the system, criminogenic circumstances, and evidence-based strategies for reform. In spite of the class being held over Zoom, the seminar format and small class size allowed for interactive class discussions, with opportunities to answer questions and ask our own. For my final paper, I wrote about sentencing reform.