UCI’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) Faculty Advisory Board has appointed computer science majors Preston Tai and Brandon Tom as UROP Fellows for the 2019-2020 academic year. Tai and Tom will receive $250 in support of their proposed research project, “Python Parallelization in Academia,” under the supervision of Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Alexandru Nicolau.
“Because Python is the first language taught to many new programmers, Preston and I have been trying to create libraries to teach students parallelization in computing,” says Tom. “Our goal is to create a tool that makes these libraries easy enough to use while highlighting key concepts of parallel computing.”
Understanding how parallel computing works is crucial for writing scalable and efficient code.
“This is especially true for industry, where the vast majority of code uses some form of parallel computing,” explains Tai, who is currently an intern at Google. “Despite its importance, parallel computing is not a very popular topic in undergraduate studies [so] we want to make it easier to teach these concepts to students.”
The two juniors will present their work at the UCI Undergraduate Research Symposium on May 16, 2020. Both are grateful for this opportunity to conduct research in their field of interest. “Not many students can say that they participated in research as an undergraduate, and I am extremely thankful I was given this opportunity,” says Tom, who hasn’t yet decided on graduate school or a job in industry. Tai is similarly thankful. “I am grateful for this opportunity to step outside my comfort zone to contribute to academia.” Fellow computer science students could soon be benefiting from their contributions.
“Hopefully with these tools,” notes Tai, “they will be able to write better code when they write production code in industry.”
— Shani Murray