'The prospects for a Computing Science graduate are very good. Personally, I would like to specialize towards artificial neural networks'
After finishing my Bachelor's in Mathematics at the University of Amsterdam, I wanted to continue with a Master's that offered a clear data science component. I compared many programmes from different universities, but they all seemed either too broad or lacked practical assignments. I was looking for a Master's that combines a challenging theoretical background with real-world implementations. The Computing Science programme in Utrecht offered me exactly that combination!
Since I came from a different background, I had to learn C# and Haskell during a premaster course in order to catch up. Also within the Master's programme, some technical courses (that I personally find less intersesting) are mandatory, such as program language design and program design. Luckily, some professors will allow you to submit assignments in any programming language you prefer, as long as it is rightly executed. I am still very happy with my choice for this Master's and with my progress so far.
I am currently doing my thesis internship at a company where I model attention in artificial neural networks.The prospects for a Computing Science graduate are very good. Many companies are looking for data scientists to analyze and optimize certain processes. Personally, I would like to continue specializing towards artificial neural networks, which are behind the most state-of-the-art classification and generation (e.g. automated image captioning/coloring) models.
"People were very friendly and helpful when I arrived"
I got my BSc in Computer Science in Romania, and then started looking for a place to do my Master’s degree. For me, the most important thing was to study at an excellent university. I checked the rankings to find the best universities in Europe, and Utrecht came out very high. It’s also a lot less expensive to study here than in the UK. What’s more, I got a very early response, which made it easy to plan the move.
People were very friendly and helpful when I arrived. I was a little sceptical that there might be too much emphasis on exotic programming languages, but I needn’t have worried. Although it can be challenging to master a high-level language such as Haskell, it’s totally worth the effort. It’s much more natural to design applications by using higher-level abstractions as compared to the explicit step-by-step manner at the heart of many imperative approaches.
I was pleasantly surprised by the informality of the contacts with the teaching staff. For example, we have weekly colloquia at which students, teachers, and sometimes representatives of companies share ideas. Students and teachers have lunch together afterwards. There are also outside events, like the Dutch Haskell User Group, where enthusiasts (students, teachers, as well as outsiders) meet once a month in a social setting over a beer. I felt connected very soon. There’s no need to learn Dutch, but it’s useful if you want to integrate.
"It was fun to be abroad, sharing ideas, knowledge, and information"
My thesis is about learning from data. It involves finding interesting patterns, which in my case relate to neuroblastoma, a cancer that’s found in children. My aim is to provide specialists with patterns that will help them to better understand the disease. Since I lacked background knowledge in this field, I worked closely with domain experts – biologists, in this case. To do this, I spent two weeks in Ghent in Belgium, followed by two months in Slovenia, where there were even more computer scientists working on this project. It was fun to be abroad, sharing ideas, knowledge, and information. I really enjoy working with computers, solving problems, and creating algorithms that can be used in real-life situations.
Barbara Pieters, student