Friday, January 9, 2015

Labmates make the work environment

This blog is veering further and further from its original goal, which was detailing my cooking and baking exploits. Then again, its name has a connotation of emergency, which is pretty widely applicable.

The real reason I wanted to write today, though, is more out of appreciation. One morning this week, my labmate arrived and we started talking. After a while, he said to me, I have a question for you. He told me about his program, which required solving a matrix calculation using a series of different parameters. He needed to solve this nine times, changing one of the parameters each time and saving the values.

About three weeks ago, I encountered a bug in one of my own programs, where I needed to solve some differential equations. While trying to set up a vector of solutions, I accidentally created a four-dimensional array, which promptly screwed up the rest of my indexing.

I recalled this and searched in Google (my default method for exploring the capabilities of MATLAB...). Lo and behold, multi-dimensional arrays, including the "cube" of values that worked perfectly for his project. And, I think I've found the solution to a problem that's been bugging me (sorry...) for a couple of days now.

This would never have happened last year, simply because I was the sole inhabitant of our lab. Even after a master's student joined the lab group, we were rarely there at the same time due to classes (mine) and work (his). This joint problem-solving was a small thing, and quite common in our lab, but in the long run, it makes me glad to be in a lab where questions are encouraged and collaboration flows naturally.

Next time, I'll return to food, a semi-recipe that this particular labmate first made for our friends, then taught me to make :)

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