Sunday, May 31, 2015

2015-05-29: Call me Dr. SalahEldeen

Dr. Nelson saying how awesome I am
Stick a fork in it...it’s done! So now what?

These are the two thoughts that floated in my mind just after defending my dissertation on May 5th. Is it over?... Well, my bet the road has just begun. I just became a doctor after all!
After merely just 5 years, 4 months, 13 days I finished the PhD (see what I did here? that’s sarcasm!). Fresh off the boat (err the plane) I landed on December 23rd 2009 I though I will just knock this PhD out in a couple of years and go work for a big company, and oh boy little did I know. I believe I am a whole different man now, I learned things I didn’t even imagine I would know, mostly about myself and the glorious fields of machine learning, modeling, user behavioral analysis, archival, preservation, and of course engineering. What do you know, it turned out that research is awesome and I loved it. Finding a pattern, building this predictive model that learns with time gives you a pleasure of no equal, and apparently I am good at it!

Back to the PhD, my dissertation is entitled: Detecting, Modeling, and Predicting, User Temporal Intention in Social Media. It’s a new field of human intention in relation to time and content shared on social networking portals. It’s an enticing area of study that merges multiple disciplines, and various fields of study, and according to Dr. Nelson right now I am the world expert in this tiny point in the collective human knowledge of sciences, … yup, I will take that.

Our work gained both academic and public acclaim, demonstrated through our publication record and the articles about our work in the BBC, the Atlantic, Popular Mechanics and MIT tech review as demonstrated in the last set of slides from my defense:



To watch me do an awesome job defending my dissertation:

Big thanks to Mat Kelly for taking awesome pictures along the defense day (pardon my weary look):

https://www.flickr.com/photos/124419986@N07/sets/72157651976633968/

I PhD Crushed it!
Well, back to the first part, it seems I was half right after all. I did not manage to finish the PhD in just “a couple” of years, but I did manage to land an awesome job at Microsoft (yes that’s the “big company” part). I accepted a job at Bing working on a very enticing project on utilizing user behavioral analysis to best present the search results. Right up my alley so I am super excited. I did work for Microsoft before twice though, both as an intern in Microsoft Research in 2009 and at Microsoft Silicon Valley in 2011. I guess it’s a loyalty thing to come back, it’s awesome to work there to be honest.



So, I am packing my stuff as I write these words, getting a bit emotional to leave the place I called home for 18.96% of my life, the amazing life friends who I would always cherish, and excited about new beginnings and awesome feats to achieve. I am shipping all my stuff to Seattle, and I am taking my old motorcycle (A.K.A. Beast) on a cross country trip inspired by Che Guevara’s life changing journey across South America after he finished med school on his motorcycle La Poderosa ("The Mighty One") documented in his marvelous memoir: The Motorcycle Diaries

 So wish me luck and I will post about the trip soon, hopefully I won't break down!
Beast packed and ready
-- Hany SalahEldeen

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