PhD Examination

On Thursday I was officially notified that I had passed my thesis examination and been awarded a Doctor of Philosophy – PhD in Computer Science.

I still have to make very minor changes to the printed final copy, but the examination version was 165 pages, 43,451 words and took 3 years, 9 months, 13 days to complete.

Now the question is what do I want to do next in my life?

The Completed Future Jigsaw

The last eight days have been simply amazing. For most of the past year my life has been like a giant jigsaw puzzle. A whole lot of pieces messed up, some missing, and some from the wrong puzzle set. But this week they have all slotted together perfectly and the result is simply awesome.

As I blogged a week ago I achieved first class honours for my honours degree. This was the centre piece to my future. I had applied for PhD programmes at Massey University, Monash University, and The University of New South Wales, however first class honours is the prerequisite into all three universities.

The next piece of the jigsaw was non conditional acceptance into the PhD programme I had applied for at The University of New South Wales – I got this on Tuesday. This left me with acceptance into the programme I wanted to do but no funding to actually do it.

For funding I had applied for the relevant PhD scholarships at all three universities. I was not expecting to hear back from any of them on the results of these scholarships until Monday next week. However, to my surprise around midday on Friday I got an email informing me that I had been awarded a scholarship for Monash. This was great news, although Monash has been my backup plan to UNSW, at least going into the weekend I would be calm that no matter what my future had been secured for the next three years.

Then even better news came at 6.45pm on Friday night. I got an email informing me I had been awarded the Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship and an Engineering Research Award scholarship at UNSW. This is exactly what I wanted and will allow me to complete PhD at UNSW, Sydney. The total combined value of these two scholarships over the next three years is in excess of $110,000 NZD. And is the best Christmas present anyone could get. It is as close to winning lotto as I will probably ever get – (especially as I don’t pay as the stats say it isn’t worth it!).

To make the week that much better I started a new job on Monday which runs until the end of January. I am working as a Web Monkey (yes that is the job title) for Mighty Ape – if you need Christmas gifts avoid the malls and shop online.

I am so stoked with the way that all of this has fallen into place. The last year has been incredibly tough on so many levels but to finally see the rewards at the end of it is such an awesome feeling. I have a new jigsaw to sort out now – planning and moving to Sydney in less than 7 weeks, but I am now sure that jigsaw will fall into place a lot more smoothly.

Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Psalm 103:1 NKJV

And if you read this expecting a blog about a real jigsaw puzzle check this out: Ravensburger Jigsaw Puzzle: Bombardment of Algier (9000 pc)

Honours Research Project Now Available

I have just uploaded my thesis and source code for my honours research project to the site. You can find them in the Research section.

Earlier today I received my final grades for my research project and three papers from Semester Two. I scored an A+ grade in all three papers and the project. I am absolutely delighted with the marks and my overall performance this year. In total, for both semesters, I scored 7 A+ grades and 1 A grade. This is by far my best ever set of marks and as a result I have been accepted into a PhD programme at The University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia beginning early next year.

In time I will blog about some of the challenges I have faced this year (it has not been all plain sailing), as well as this I am working on uploading some of my past assignments to the site (some with and without source code – and minor modifications). I never imagined I would progress so far in academia and now I feel like the journey has only just begun.

Sydney Day One

I have safely arrived in Sydney for my visit to UNSW tomorrow.

Flight over was good, the plane before us was cancelled so we ended up with a 747 to take us over because of all the people.

Despite a few bumps leaving a very stormy Auckland everything went smoothly.

And even better I have free internet in my hotel room.

6000 Point Balanced DLA

Yes I am still making DLAs just trying to make the maths that little bit nicer, and get that all impressive performance boost.

This is a 6,000 point balanced model, it took just under 1.5 hours to generate, compared to 4+ hours for a 5,000 point unbalanced DLA on Sunday


On being ultra competitive.

I had an interesting day today.

This morning I picked up some 101 assignments to mark. While I was there another marker showed up to pick up their collection of assignments to mark. She said hello by stating
“oh look my arch nemesis from 101 is here too.”

My immediate response was “what do you mean only 101; I was in your stats classes through second and third year too.” This then led onto a discussion regarding competition and ended up with the person I was picking up the assignments from to mention that their son was contemplating studying Computer Science next year and asked me how I stayed focus when there is so much in Computer Science that can distract you a.k.a. The Internet. My response was that it was competition that keeps you focussed. One thing I cannot stand is someone else outdoing me.

In the afternoon I had a lecture, and afterwards four of us were discussing and comparing our flag assignments. I got asked how I had worked out the maths for my flag. I explained that I had been up until 2 in the morning work it out; the person who asked me had spent 20 hours on the same problem but had not worked out a solution. I quickly explained the ideas behind how I had done my solution which seemed so easy explaining it in five minutes, but simple on the surface does not mean simple in reality.

Another person had a working flag assignment but no gravity acting on it, which results in the maths only needing to work in 2D. Initially the two of us who had been trying to get the maths to work with gravity (in 3D) gave him some ribbing for not having gravity. Initially his response was that it was a special flag.. but after a few more minutes he conceded that maybe he needed to relook at his maths.

Coming out of those discussions I felt pleased that I had managed to work out the maths and others hadn’t. The competitive spirit in me pleased that I was leading the battle at the moment…

The Honours Project Outline.

This is the next 10 months of my life:

Traffic Simulation


To construct a real time three dimensional simulation of congested traffic flows in Java and to test various ideas surrounding the build up of congestion.

Such tests may include but are not limited to:

  • Testing various algorithms for effectively navigating already congested traffic in the shortest amount of time
  • Testing algorithms to determine the best approach to reduce the build up of congestion
  • Investigating the impact of various events such as an accident, construction of a new road or lane on the amount of congestion in the model.

Expected Outcomes:

  • Project constructed in object orientated and model-view-controller code in Java
  • Use of Open GL or other three dimensional rendering tools
  • Interactive GUI allowing end user to construct traffic model
  • Ability to import satellite images in standard JPEG format to be used as ground textures.
  • Road network data structure to be based on Graph Theory
  • Cars implemented as artificial intelligence agents with real world physical control models, collision detection and awareness, environmental awareness.
  • Ability to perform controlled tests on simulation, including testing of algorithms for avoiding congestion once built up, algorithms for avoiding congestion build up, and impacts on varying road network design and events on traffic flows.
  • Ability to extract data and results from the model.

Planned Project Timeline:

  • February
    • Project planning
    • Initial prototyping and skeleton of code class layouts.
    • Skelton of thesis written in Latex.
  • March
    • Research into existing traffic simulation, causes of congestion, real life techniques for reducing congestion, and other relevant topics.
    • Coding of basic 3D GUI controls and viewers.
    • Thesis introduction written
  • April
    • Research and design of various tests to be performed on traffic simulator.
    • Coding of road network design controls.
    • Results of research written into thesis.
  • May
    • Review of possible tests and design of artificial intelligence controls to implement tests.
    • Coding of simulator controls and agents/cars on network.
    • Testing ideas written into thesis.
  • June
    • Correct realistic implementation of cars and interactions with road network within simulator.
    • GUI ideas written into thesis.
  • July
    • Implementation of initial tests on simulator.
    • Simulation controls written into thesis.
  • August
    • Review of results of simulator with expected outcomes and possible real world examples for validity, recoding of artificial intelligence controls if mistakes are discovered.
    • Summary of initial tests written into thesis.
  • September
    • Second set of tests on simulator, either the corrected versions of the initial tests or new tests developed as a result of initial tests.
    • Summary of second round of tests written into thesis.
  • October
    • Conclusions and review of thesis made.
    • Review of final version of thesis.
  • November
    • Thesis due on 11th.


I am on cloud nine (to steal a commonly used quote from my GF).

I got informed today that for one of my papers last semester I scored 100%. In other words, 15/15 for Assignment One, 15/15 for Assignment Two, 70/70 for the Exam.

I am only the second person ever in the history of the paper to do this.

Now I just have to find a way to celebrate.