I hope the past month went well for you. Welcome back to your monthly pulse on what I've been up to. In the past month, I won $4000 in AWS credits from a quantum machine learning hackathon and also realized that I've been getting caught up in productivity "hacks". Expanding on that and how I escaped it below.
P.S. I'm looking for a summer internship to get more involved in the QC space -- it would mean so much to me if you shoot me an email if you hear of anything!
QHack (Feb 17 to the 26th) was an absolute blast! Lead experts in the field delivered over 24 talks to over 2000 participants (here's one that talked about QML applied to music creation). Peering into what the great minds of the field are ideating upon is always exciting. 😀 But unfortunately, we couldn't watch many of the talks live because Calum, Aarsh, Tomasz (my team), and I were too busy trying to build our project! In hindsight, that was actually beneficial since we had more time to develop our project.
We were all excited about quantum finance, so we decided to focus our project on that. It explored the area of quantum portfolio optimization with the use of qGANs (quantum analogue of generative adversarial networks).
Although the final submission results are still to come (I will keep you posted), our team was ecstatic to hear that the judges rewarded our project draft with $4000 in AWS credits and exclusive alpha access to Floq QC simulators; provided bySandbox@Alphabet!
Overall, Xanadu put the event together remarkably well. Apart from building a ton of skills in QML, I learned the importance of building a great team. I hear this so often, but I realize now—looking back at my experience—that I wouldn't have pushed myself as hard as I did if not for the culture and ingenuity of the people I worked with.
As part of my submission to the QOSF mentorship program, I generalized the quantum approximation optimization algorithm to solve weighted cases of this combinatorial optimization problem known at Max-Cut.
Quick Instacart update—again!
And we won!
The consulting project with Instacart has been a focus of this newsletter for the past few issues, so I won't dwell on it too long, but I thought I'd update y'all on the good news :) On February 10th, my group and I pitched our idea to Instacart (a $30B grocery delivery company). The judges picked it as the most feasible, impactful, and implementable proposal out of the five presented.
Listening to this podcast opened my eyes to how I search for and implement all kinds of productivity hacks, hoping that it will alleviate the need to overcome the discomfort of getting straight to work and getting shit done. This is why Nir Eyal refers to time management as pain management. At the end of the day, we need to toughen through the pain and get shit done.
For instance, I recently started time blocking, and it didn't help as much as I expected. The problem wasn't the technique itself, though. I mistakenly shifted the responsibility of completing the task to the hack, sub-consciously thinking that as long as I time block, my to-do tasks will complete themselves. Although it may sound obvious in hindsight, I realized that I've been using productivity hacks as a mechanism to bypass the discomfort of actually getting work done, which of course, didn't lead to any results.
We can follow daily routines that inspire action and create systems for productivity, but we have to build self-discipline and do what we set out to do when it comes down. Focusing on that has been the biggest help for me this month. I didn't try training self-discipline or wiping out all productivity habits either (sometimes they help); I just let them be and took action.
In the next month, I'll be either going deeper into the principles of quantum mechanics or extending my quantum machine learning project in portfolio optimization.
Another big focus is a consulting project with the UN; I'm working on alleviating the digital gender divide across developing nations (more on that later)! Here's what you can expect from me:
Another QML project (probably in QFinance) or a review article on what I've learned in QML throughout the month
A comprehensive solution deck to battle the digital gender divide in developing nations
Quote I'm pondering...
"Your personal experiences make up maybe 0.00000001% of what’s happened in the world but maybe 80% of how you think the world works" ~Morgan Housel
Thank you for reading! Do feel free to shoot me an email to let me know what you think on any of the above :)
P.S. While reading my chemistry textbook for an upcoming test, I realized I was a bunch of atoms staring at a bunch of atoms that's about a bunch of atoms. 👍