Sunday, November 25, 2007


University Championships

Last weekend our university hosted the German University Championships in Squash (individual). Unlike other countries university level sports is not a big issue in Germany. Last year the squash championship did not even take place, as nobody organized it.

The tournament went smoothly and even attracted some of the German top players to come to Karlsruhe.
The tournament mode included a qualification round with group matches.
I played in the A-field, whre I passed the qualification round to enter the main draft, but then lost against the later runner-up. After that I continued in the plate on Sunday and finished the tournament as runner-up of the plate.

Bottom line: a fun tournament with good atmosphere and a sign that squash at university level is not dead in Germany yet. Let's hope it continues like this in the future.

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Friday, November 23, 2007


My New Home

If you are looking for me these days, your best chances might be to look for me here.
Night times included ;)

(The picture shows the 24h library of the university)


Elites in Europe

Yesterday I attended a very interesting colloquium.

Our university was raised to the new status of "Elite University" about a year ago, the first to get this title together with two universities in Munich. Recently 7 more universities followed, so that we have in total 10 so called Elite Universities in Germany now.

This colloquium with the amusing title "Elites -- what for?" consists of a number of talks and discussions that take a closer looks at elite in different parts of society. Yesterdays talk was held by Prof. Dr. Michael Hartmann from the Department of Social Science of the University of Darmnstadt and called "Elites in Europe".

In his talk he spoke about the current situation of elites in Europe, how homogenous or heterogenous these elites are - e.g. do elites only recruit among themselves or can people from lover ranks of the society reach these circles as well - and of course also spoke about the new German Elite University initiative.

To summarize the talk, Prof Hartmann named the UK and France as examples of countries with very closed, very homogeneous elites in almost all areas of society (politics, justice , civil service, military, business) and the Skandinavien countries as the other example of countries with elites that are less homogeneous. Germany he ranked somewhere in the middle.

According to him the German business sector is dominated by a small business elite, very much as it is the case in the UK or France, but other areas like politics and education much less.
For example our canceler has in the majority of cases been from a working class or lower middle class background (except Helmut Schmidt), while the British PM is almost exclusively from Oxbridge (Brown is not, Blair was).

The German Research and education system is (or was) also very different from the UK or France with their elite Oxbridge or Grand Ecole. In Germany so far it didn't make a difference which university you graduated from. But now with the process of elite universities, this will change, as those students from "Elite Universities" will be more recognized. Of course these universities will get more funding, attract better Professors and soon also the better students. On the other hand of course the other universities will get less and soon we might have bad universities, something we also didn't have so far.

I must admit that I have been very positive about the decision to push research and put in extra money into our best universities. But there might be a certain truth in Prof Hartmann's criticism.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007


Happy 35th Birthday Computer Science Faculty

Our faculty celebrated it's 35th birthday this week. Our university was the first in Germany to establish a faculty for Computer Science in 1972.

It was surprising to hear that our Professors from the first and second year, Prof Gerhard Goos and Prof Peter Lockemann, were actually among the founding father of the faculty and therefore of Computer Science as a whole in Germany.

The celebration ceremony itself was a bit boring though. I think the Dean's office somehow didn't invite the students for the event, I think I was almost the only student in the event. The next older bunch of people were some PhD students, the rest were all Professors, former professors and representatives from the ministry, city etc.

Somehow I had the feeling that the ceremony didn't live up to my expectations. When we think of ourselves as such a great Elite-University and our faculty is among the largest on campus and arguably the most renowned, I would have expected a bigger "firework". The whole event had less that 100 people in the audience, I would say.

So long and thanks for the coffee and cake :)

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Friday, November 16, 2007



Algebra exam is scheduled for 10th December 10 am. Time to panic!

(Just reading about this field extension called Kummer extension, named after Ernst Kummer, while "Kummer" also has the meaning of "sorrow" in German.)


Thursday, November 15, 2007


Application reached!!

My NGS application reached NUS! Such a relieve. Just called the place to inquire. The stupid Post website still tells me my letter was send from Frankfurt and nothing more. Phew.....

Everybody hold thumbs for my application to be successful.

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Looking for Algebra study partner

Hello everyone. I am doing my Algebra suplementary subject exam in a about a month from now. I am looking for somebody to prepare for the exam with. If you happen to study in Karlsruhe and plan to take the same exam anytime soon, feel free to leave a note.

I know this is pretty unlikely, but I still wanted to share this funny cartoon. I pinned a poster with that comic on the university black board today :)

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Do non-graded assignments improve teamwork?

This week when I was looking for a study place in university (unsuccessfully), I realized a difference between the study room here and the study room in NUS, except that the one in Singapore is cleaner and air-coned.

Here students were all gathering in small groups, discussing and solving their assignments (Uebungsblaetter) together. A typical scene in the NUS study room would show people sitting in front of their books and laptops alone.

First and foremost, NUS study room is a quiet area, where you are not supposed to discuss, but I realized that there is another more significant reason why students solve their assignments in groups or not.

We have one assignment per week for almost every class. The assignments are a help to practice and understand. They are graded, but don't contribute to the final grade. Usually you just have to get a certain percentage of the total points to be admitted to the exam at the end of the semester.
So by collaborating and doing the assignments, students only benefit from each other. They don't compete among each other.

In NUS the assignments usually contribute to your final score and are more a test, that is supposed to be done individually, of course. So students do their assignments alone, and even if they would (sometimes you are allowed) to solve the problems together, the motivation is less as you don't benefit from the solution as much as if you had solved yourself (see my posts concerning relative grading).

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Do you have a Graduate School?

I will apply! My (prospective) PhD Supervisor in NUS suggested that I would apply for another PhD program in NUS, just in case my first application is not successful.

This sounds like a reasonable plan, only that the deadline for the application is Thursday, this Thursday, that is TOMORROW!! And I only got my professors email on Monday. Considering the amount of time that I spent on my first application, this seems pretty daunting, as I need the same documents again, eg. two letters of recommendation, transcript, etc.

The good news is, you can apply online. So I submitted my online application this morning and will send the remaining documents in late.

I am in a Graduate School application mood now, I should just make a few more copies of everything and apply to every Graduate School in Singapore :)

PS: of course I need a BANK DRAFT for my application again......... (to be continued)

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Monday, November 12, 2007


Post post

My application letter status remains unchanged. It still says it was transfered in Frankfurt to be delivered to Singapore. But it should have reached already???????

My faith into the Deutsche Post has been tested beyond limits already. This starts to make me nervous.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Why should I hurry?

Another follow up on my Grad School application.

Now that I have been rushing to get all necessary supporting documents, certified copies of transcripts, certificates, awards, TOEFL and even the Letters of Recommendation on time, NGS has just switched the application mode to "open all year"!!

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All the way to Singapore.......

My application letter status:

The mission was launched on 06.11.2007 in international logistics center for the Frankfurt onward to Singapore.

(tranlation by google with minor errors ;)

Original text:

Die Sendung wurde am 06.11.2007 im internationalen Logistikzentrum Frankfurt zur Weiterbef├Ârderung nach Singapur ├╝bergeben.

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Monday, November 05, 2007


Knocking on the Doors of NUS Graduate School

Today I sent my application for my PhD in Singapore. I figured out that "Double D" is not quite enough, so now I want to upgrade to "Triple D" :) I applied to the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering.

Doing a PhD in Singapore is quite different from doing a PhD at a German university. The Singapore way is basically the same as in the US, you are a still a student (PhD student but still student), still take courses during the first year, sit for exams, etc. while you are doing your research.
Then after about one year you have to pass a Qualifying exam, if you fail that you can only receive a Master, but no PhD any longer.

In Germany you would usually start working as part of the staff of a Professor. You would NOT be considered a student anymore, but a "Mitarbeiter", do the normal work at the institute, maybe do some teaching, and write your dissertation.

Of course you cannot forget that in Germany you would already have a Diploma or Master while in Singapore it would usually be a Bachelor only.

The next 4-5 days I will impatiently sitting in front of the computer and check the letter status on every few hours. (I had some bad experience with the Deutsche Post recently) till I can be sure it reached Singapore safely.

Everyone send good vibes for my application!

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Friday, November 02, 2007


Back to School

My internship at SAP is over. Now I am back in university for the winter term. Actually there are not many classes I had to take, but I decided to sit for the Algebra lecture to revise for my upcoming supplementary subject exam ("Nebenfach Pruefung").


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