Free Sample Personal Statement in Computer Science
Program: MS in Computer Science
I grew up in Oscar, Ohio, where I attended Pleasant Meadows High School, a nationally recognized college preparatory institution. Pleasant Meadows is a public school which all academically inclined students throughout the city can attend if they manage to pass an entrance examination. At Pleasant Meadows I was placed in the honors program; later I took six advanced placement courses, receiving college credit for five of them. I also completed three full years of Greek and two full years of advanced German. I graduated from Pleasant Meadows in the top ten percent of my class.
Upon graduating Pleasant Meadows I was accepted to Carillon Cross University. Since my family was of very modest means, I relied heavily on financial aid. I immediately decided to become a chemical engineer, a decision that was not well informed. My first semester at Carillon Cross was promising, but I struggled through the next three years pursuing a career that I eventually had to admit did not interest me. I learned from this experience that my true strengths and interests lay not in applied technology but, rather, in the philosophical constructs of scientific principles.
So, it is not surprising that, in reaction to my unsatisfactory engineering experience, I spent the next year and a half in the humanities, completing a B.A. degree in history, which I was awarded in the Spring of 1987. I excelled during my studies in the history department, but I decided that I did not want to pursue graduate study in the field. While considering career options, I took the LSAT, which strongly tests analytical ability, placing in the 95th percentile. However, I really wanted to pursue a career in the sciences.
I knew that I wanted to continue my education, but I was out of money. So, I got a job working for University Development at Carillon Cross as a PC programmer. My job duties were to develop a database reporting system to track potential donors to the university. I was very successful and was quickly promoted (within 4 months) to manager of the donor accounting department, but, more importantly, I discovered that I truly enjoyed working with computers. I liked the creative possibilities in programming; even more, I was intrigued with the process of modeling problems and then implementing different solutions through programming. I realized then that I wanted to learn more about computing. So, I decided to use my tuition waiver benefit to begin to explore the computer engineering/science field. I started to take classes towards a B.S. in computer engineering, but later switched to computer science because I wanted to work more with ideas and less with implementation. I was able to take one course (sometimes two) per semester, which will enable me to receive my B.S. this Spring (1993).
As you can see from my transcript, in all of the courses that I have taken while employed, I have received only letter grades of A or B (3.5 GPA). Meanwhile, I received two more job promotions and currently hold the title of Senior Manager in Advancement Services. My job is equivalent to a programmer/analyst II, but requires extensive knowledge of University Advancement and has managerial responsibilities as well. I spend much of my time programming on an IBM ES9000 mainframe system as well as working with many PC applications.
I feel that I have grown tremendously as a person through my employment at Carillon Cross. I have learned a lot about myself; for instance, I find teaching others to be very rewarding (something I would like to pursue further along academic lines). Although my employment of five years with the university has taught me many valuable skills, I find the work to be unchallenging and devoid of ideas. It pains me to leave the security of a good job and many close friends to go back to school, but, I am very committed to my career goals.
My sincerest desire is to become a computer scientist. Specifically, I am interested in exploring how problems can be modeled and solved using artificial intelligence. I also want to learn about human cognition and machine intelligence. I have been studying the debate over whether machines will ever become "intelligent" given the current course of research and reading about such issues as whether a machine can acquire "common sense" (as discussed in Hubert Dreyfus's book What Computers Still Can't Do). I have been exploring many different areas within the domain of artificial intelligence (such as neural networks, genetic algorithms, and natural language processing). The bottom line is that I want to be a part of this exciting field. To that end I would like to come to Indiana University to work towards an M.S. in computer science with an emphasis in natural language processing.
I am looking forward to attending Indiana University in the Fall. I recently took the GRE general test and received a 2200 combined score: a 670 in verbal (93rd percentile),750 in analytical (93rd percentile), and a 780 in quantitative (92nd percentile). I know that I can make a positive contribution to your department, and I hope that you will give me that chance. I thank you for you time in considering my application.
THE LEGACY OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
Gerald Jay Sussman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
We have witnessed and participated in great advances, in transportation, in computation, in communication, and in biotechnology. But the advances that look like giant steps to us will pale into insignificance by contrast with the even bigger steps in the future. Sometimes I try to imagine what we, the technologists of the second half of the 20th century, will be remembered for, if anything, hundreds of years from now.
In the distant past there were people who lived on the banks of the Nile River. Each year the Nile overflowed its banks, wiping out land boundaries but providing fertile soil for growing crops. As a matter of economic necessity the Egyptians invented ways of surveying the land. They also invented ways of measuring time, to help predict the yearly deluge. Similar discoveries were made in many places in the world. Holders of this practical knowledge were held in high esteem, and the knowledge was transferred to future generations through secret cults. These early surveyors laid the foundation for the development of geometry (“earth measurement” in Greek) by Pythagoras and Euclid and their colleagues around 350 BC. Geometry is a precise language for talking about space. It can be taught to children. (Euclid’s Elements has been used in this way for more than 2000 years.) It makes the children smarter, by giving them ways of expressing knowledge about arrangements in space and time. It is because of these Greeks that we can tell a child, “If you build it out of triangles it will not collapse the way it does when you build it out of rectangles.”
The Rhind Papyrus from Egypt (c. 1650 BC) is the earliest document that we have that discusses what we now think of as algebra problems. Diophantus, another Greek, wrote a book about these ideas in the third century A.D. Algebra was further developed by Abu Abd-Allah ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi (c. 780–c. 850) and others. (Note: “algebra” = al’jabr is an Arabic word meaning “the recombining of broken parts.”) Algebra is also a precise language that gives us the ability to express knowledge about the relationships among quantities, and to make deductions from that knowledge, without necessarily knowing the values of those quantities.
For a long time people were able to predict the motions of some of the heavenly bodies using ad hoc theories derived from observation and philosophical considerations. Claudius Ptolemy wrote the Almagest, a famous compendium of this knowledge, in the second century. About 350 years ago Descartes, Galileo, Newton, Leibnitz, Euler, and their contemporaries turned mechanics into a formal science. In the process they