‘My Time at HSE Will Always Be Special for Me’
Sangam Kumar Singh is currently finishing the second year of his Master of Science in Big Data Systems. After spending the first year at HSE Moscow, he has gone to the UK on a double degree track with Lancaster University. Sangam has talked to HSE News Service about his studies, hobbies, research interests, and future plans.
On Double Master’s
The workload in the double Master’s is substantial. It’s a very intensive programme, especially if it’s with a UK university because here they have one-year Master’s programme and everything is squeezed into a short time frame. This puts a lot of demand on students. There are a lot of tasks and individual assignments to complete, in addition to workshops and hackathon that have to be attended. On top of all that I also have a lot happening at conference and on work front, which requires my attention. So, I can say that I am very busy.
Due to Covid-19 situation, many parts of world are under lockdown. For me personally it’s become very difficult to focus. My family is back home in India, and I cannot fly to visit them due to lockdown. These are challenging times. But I do find time to volunteer for the Moscow Longevity project, where I teach English to Moscow’s older people.
Senior citizens need more support than ever before, to reduce their stress, loneliness and anxiety. By volunteering, I am helping to make the world at least a little bit of a better place. All of us hope to retire one day and live out our golden years in comfort, in the company of our friends, and entertained by our favourite activities.
In my free time, I also write blogs. The most recent one that I have written is on CricCulture. It’s a unique blog on the bona fide religion for each Indian, "Cricket". CricCulture has added such value to my life, and I love having the opportunity to share my passions and thoughts with my loyal readers.
As it’s my second year of the Master’s programme, I have to do a thesis at HSE, and I have decided to do a consultancy-based dissertation at Lancaster University considering the time that I have to spend doing both papers at the same time. I had three tracks at Lancaster University for my dissertation from which to choose from—consultancy, startup, and research-based. Consultancy was the obvious choice to balance the workload and also to get insight into consulting practice and market research.
I was supposed to go to Moscow to meet with my academic supervisor to discuss my thesis, but all my plans have been cancelled because of the lockdown around the world. Everything is happening in the virtual space right now. The classes at Lancaster University are also held online.
Master’s Thesis Research
For my master’s thesis I am looking at social network evolution which makes use of network theory, social science, informatics, and business. There are a lot of things there that cascade onto R&D in companies and modern business architecture. The area of my research relates to how people interact as a socio-technical system.
If you try and understand the word of mouth and how the social network evolves, how information propagates, you will understand how information spreads—what kind of messages are floating around. That includes the patterns of how COVID-related information spreads on the social media.
It is actually quite interesting to see how so many different factors are being brought in every day: one day you see a correlation between the temperature and the cases, and the other day you see a study on BCG vaccine. Some of this information spread patterns can certainly be incorporated into my thesis.
My research is related to modern business’s reactions to changes or in other words, virality. In this current complete shutdown, it is particularly interesting to see how the business is going to respond. What will be the plan of actions and how soon the economies can bounce back?
Studying at HSE
My time at HSE will always be special for me because there were a lot of interesting and useful courses, for example, Applied Machine Learning, Big Data Systems Development and Implementation, and Advanced Data Management. This last course is particularly important, considering what is happening right now, because managing the data is the key thing today.
The global consensus is that to tackle COVID-19 we need every country to be on the same page. In the past, the countries dealt with their problems independently. Now everybody has to come together and share information, projections, and the best practices.
Talking about projections and machine learning, the interesting thing is that machine learning does not give 100% accuracy. The result very much depends on the way the model is trained, as well as whether it is supervised or unsupervised learning, which are quite different. The training model should contain a lot of historical data. But there will still be some errors.
The big question that interests me is how to remove bias from the data because if the data comes from a compromised source, the model will not give accurate predictions.
This is the area that will need a lot of work in the future. Machine learning still relies on human ‘supervision’, so humans are not going anywhere in the foreseeable future. The machines will be as good as the humans want them to be.
Other good courses included Enterprise Architecture, System Analysis and Organization Design, Advanced Data Analysis & Big Data for Business Intelligence, Data Visualization, and Cloud Computing, to name a few. Courses are taught by academic staff and industry practitioners from corporations like Yandex, which is very useful.
We also had research seminars, practical workshops, and guest lectures from industry, research institutions, and other universities. There were industry visits to renowned global multinational corporations such as SAP, as well. Besides, I took some courses in Computer Science, for example, Social Network Analysis, which is very interesting in the current situation.
All in all, there are a lot of things that I have learnt at HSE.
I continue to look forward to building my career with the knowledge gained at HSE and Lancaster University. I wanted to pursue a PhD, but I will have to see how the situation develops in the world to make the decision about going to a doctoral school. It’s rather difficult to plan anything at the moment.
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