Caltech Rankmaniac 2012

We are trying to educate people about being CS majors and getting our site to the top of a Rankmaniac 2012 google image search

Tag Archives: Computer Science

Expectations of Caltech

rankmaniac 2012 expectations

Rankmaniacs expected less

I actually think some rankmaniacs might agree with me on this one.  Although, I don’t care much for the video games part.


Caltech CS Undergraduate Requirements

rankmaniac 2012 caltech

Where Rankmaniacs Go

Being a CS major (or pretty much any major at Caltech) has many requirements.  First of all the general requirements for all Caltech students consists of a lot of math and physics and some chemistry (yuck).

Most freshman who are curious about CS start by taking the introductory courses which show the fun things computers can do and the range of what computers can do.

  • CS 1: Intro to Computer Programming
  • CS 2: Intro to Programming Methods
  • CS 4: Fundamentals of Computer Programming

During sophomore year comes all of the nitty gritty details of computability and complexity and algorithms and some intro to graph theory and (my least favorite) how computers actually work.

  • Ma/CS 6: Intro to Discrete Math
  • CS 21: Decidability and Tractability
  • CS 24: Intro to Computing Systems
  • CS 38: Intro to Algorithms

Junior and senior year is when the real fun happens – CS courses and projects in whatever area you choose, math classes of your choice, and lots of focus on what you really want to do.

  • 7 CS classes labeled 114 or above
  • a 3-quarter course sequence culminating in a large project

This project is the fun part.  My project course was in Learning & Vision, for which I took Artificial Intelligence, Learning Systems, and as the final projected competed in a machine learning competition based on the 2006-2009 Netflix competition.

Examples of other project tracks at Caltech include Distributed systems, Networks (the Rankmaniac 2012 Class!), Graphics, and Theory (ew :P(says the girl taking Algorithms)).

Has anyone figured out Bing yet?

rankmaniac 2012 bing logo

How are rankmaniacs supposed to get on Bing?

One image from this class appears on Bing – and it took a couple of weeks to get there.  So why can’t we or anyone else get on Bing image search?

According to the top articles found on Bing for the query “how to get on Bing image search”, the image search optimization methods are similar to Google’s:  appropriate filenames, alt text, and something about frame breaking (that I don’t actually understand and don’t have time to look up right now because I’m technically working on a different problem set).  Most of the other results were for how to be the background image of Bing or how to turn off the background image of Bing.

Any advice on how we can get pictures on Bing image search in 18 hours?

Ready for another Rankmaniac 2012 Update?

rankmaniac 2012
Our Caltech Rankmaniac 2012 blog comes up 4th on google web search!

Hello loyal readers of our blog! Here’s an update on our class competition: Rankmaniac Reloaded.    We are doing very well in the image search (check the google site under the “rankmaniac 2012” page above to see exactly how well) and are also doing pretty well in the web search, as you can see above.  Not that the web search really matters for us Rankmaniacs this year.

So, what’s gotten us this far?  Lot of search engine optimization (SEO) techniques – constant updates of our webpages, link farming, title and alt tags for the images, and PageRank.  Funny how all of these things came together to give us the final boost we needed.

While this page has of course comes up when “rankmaniac 2012” is queried, we’ve even gotten a few hits for keywords “caltech”, “shortest unique substring”, and “Facebook weaknesses 2012”.  It’s pretty nice that we are being found for reasons other than our own 🙂

One problem we (and everyone in the class) are having is getting on Bing image search though.  We are indexed by and do appear on Bing web search, but we still aren’t sure how they rank images.  At this point in the competition, just getting onto Bing is equivalent to winning the Bing competition.  So, we’ll see what we can do in the next couple of days.

There are only a few days left in the competition, so this may be the last update before the final checking of ranks.  Come back later for more interview questions and CS advice!

Shortest Unique Substrings

A few days ago I was asked to write a Java program that would return a list of the shortest unique substrings of a given string in lexicographical order.  For example, given bababba, the program returned bb.

What algorithm would you use for this and how would you implement it?

What Google Thinks of Programmers…

Rankmaniac 2012 programmers are

Rankmaniac 2012

Programmers are Rankmaniacs!!!!!!

Anyways, we here at Caltech are most certainly not arrogant, are definitely smart, and may or may not be lazy…

What do we like to do on our time off from homework and programming and rankmaniac-ing? I for one have a second home at the athletic center since I pretty much live at the pool.  When I’m not working or swimming I can be found lounging around watching Hulu or Netflix.

Why Computer Science?

rankmaniac 2012 pacman game

Projects like Pacman and Rankmaniac 2012 make me like CS

A question I have been asked a lot lately is why I chose to study computer science.  My answer is surprising to most people.  When I first got to Caltech my computer was just a big calculator and word processor with a web browser for wikipedia and Facebook.  I had no idea of its potential to solve problems.  Since I thought math was the only way to do fun things like devise clever solutions to puzzles, I spent my first 2.5 years at Caltech as an Applied and Computational Mathematics major.

It turns out there is still a lot of pure math involved in this major and I got sick of proving random theorems and equations.  Where was it going?  What was I ever going to use this math for?

The first real computer science class I took at Caltech was Artificial Intelligence (I say real because it wasn’t just intro to computer science or a language class).  There was still math involved, but there was a purpose.  To make an efficient machine or algorithm.  I even completed my first project with a partner – to write AI for a simple Pacman game, which totally beat out doing math homework in the funnies category.  And so I fell in love with the magic of computers as a tool in my puzzling world.

Had a Tech Interview Today…

Rankmaniac 2012

Rankmaniac 2012

Futurama - Rankmaniac 2012

My Microsoft Interview

Hi guys,

Still working on the Rankmaniac 2012 competition!!!  Thought I’d give you guys a bit of a description of my Microsoft Interview process, since that seems to be a fairly popular company.

Rankmaniac 2012 Microsoft

Rankmaniac 2012 Microsoft

I knew that career fair was coming up, but I didn’t bother meeting my recruiter there – I wanted to stand out from the rest of the candidates.  Instead, like a true Rankmaniac, I sent my Microsoft recruiter an email before the career fair with my resume and a short note.  When she was visiting campus for the career fair, I set up a time to grab coffee with her (at her convenience of course).  This gave me a chance to learn a lot more about Microsoft and also gave the recruiter a chance to get to know me as a person.

They let me skip the initial interview, which was nice of them, and they had me fly out for an on site interview in Seattle for the Windows Core team, which works on the Windows file system, Windows kernel and some basic Windows security stuff (I specified this team before hand.  I think it looks better when you know what you want to work on).  Microsoft provided me with a rental car and a hotel, so my stay was pretty comfortable.

The night before the interview was fairly sleepless, as is often the case for me.  I woke up around seven and drove the 2 miles to my interview.  I went into a room with many, many other full time and intern candidates.  There I wait for about 30 minutes until my on site recruiter came out.  She led me to a shuttle that took me to the Windows Core building.  My first interview was with a member of the Windows Kernel team.  It was a pretty easy question about inserting an element into a linked list in C.  Not difficult, but the first question is always harder for me than the rest because that is when my nervousness is peaking (after that, I get in the zone).

My next interview was a lunch interview.  I chatted with a member of the file system team, while I had a bite to eat.  Then we went to his office and he asked me some conceptual questions related to file system structure (He basically asked me how does one construct a file system).  This also wasn’t very hard because he wasn’t looking for any technical definitions – he was mostly just looking for how one would define files versus folder (and other simple things like that).  My next interview was with a member of the security team.  It was tough at first until I saw the trick.  He basically wanted me to write a program that removes comments from a C file.  You had to account for all of the different comment types and placements.  Since I’d never taken a compilers class, this was initially a bit challenging.  My last interview was very easy.  Essentially, I just had to iterate through a binary tree.  Mostly, the man (who was on the Windows Core team) just wanted to chat with me about what Windows Core does.

After the interview concluded, I was driven back to the recruiting office.  I had a meeting with the recruiter who presented me with my Microsoft offer.  I left Microsoft feeling happy and relaxed and flew home the next day.

Once you have an offer, Microsoft recruiters become a lot more aggressive (they are definitely known for this).  They call you a lot and push you very hard, but they are also willing to negotiate.  Although, I didn’t end up accepting their offer, I had a really good experience with their team.  Anyway, I hope this post helps you if you ever interview with Microsoft.

How do you think?

Some questions at interviews are just meant to get an idea of our thinking processes and our problem solving abilities. I was once asked a single question – one that I’ve heard before – and asked to give multiple different answers. Yes, there was an actual solution and I’m sure other interviewees would have known it, but I did not. So, I came up with four original answers. What answers can you come up with to the following puzzle:

You are in a room with a table in the middle of it. On the table are three lamps, two of which are always on. When you are in the room, the third light is also on. When you leave the room, the light turns off. How do you figure out which light turns off?

PS. How many computer scientists does it take to change a light bulb?

None – that’s a hardware problem.