Ferran Alet

Visiting student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Undergraduate student at UPC BarcelonaTech

Email: {mylastname}@mit.edu

CV / Linkedin

About me

I am an undergraduate student from the university UPC BarcelonaTech, now completing my undergraduate thesis by doing research at MIT until June 2016. I am studying two degrees (Mathematics and Engineering Physics) thanks to the CFIS fellowship program. On my own, I do Computer Science: participating in the ACM-ICPC competitions and doing an internship at Google last summer. Next year, I plan to go to grad school thanks to the La Caixa fellowship, which will completely fund my next two years of study. My main research interests are Artificial Intelligence (in particular, Machine Learning) and Robotics.

Current Projects

Robotic Manipulation in cluttered environments

I'm currently doing my undergraduate research thesis at MIT with Professor Alberto Rodriguez. Our goal is to pick an object in a cluttered scene by doing a sequence of movement primitives. To learn the correct policy we are currently exploring Reinforcement Learning and Planning in a simulated environment.

Moreover, we expect to integrate part of this research into the planner of our robot in the Amazon Picking Challenge Competition.

APC robot

Machine Learning

I deeply believe ML will allow us to tackle very hard problems in the near future. This summer, I did an internship at Google (Zurich), in the Knowledge Research Team. There, I did research in Deep Learning to improve the handwriting recognizer used, for instance, in Google Translate.

After reading papers on Deep Learning, following and thinking about the state of the art, I was recently able to go to NIPS '15 to know about the latest developments in the field.

Machine Learning

Prior to that, my first steps in ML were doing Andrew Ng's and Geoffrey Hinton's courses and optimizing the simple Neural Network shown in Ng's course with cross-validation to significantly outperform humans in the MNIST dataset modified with strong gaussian noise.

NN with noise

Programming competitions

I love doing Programming competitions, where participants are asked to write codes that solve several algorithmic problems. Solving them, involves a combination of imagination, logical thinking, algorithmic and coding abilities and great teamwork.

As an example, you can read the problem set and solutions for the ACM-ICPC South-Western European Regional. We recently won this competition, qualifying for the World Finals 2016 held in Thailand!

Here is my Codeforces profile , the most popular website that helds regular contests, where I'm percentile 97.6%.

Bootstrap Thumbnail Third

Past projects and other interests

Self-driving RC car

With a partner at CFIS, we had the idea of hacking the control of an RC car with Arduino. From the images captured from a mobile phone (in her hands in the video) the car was able to drive itself through obstacles (red paper) better than we could!

This may seem implausible given the low speed of the self-driving car; however, since the original RC car was too fast and couldn't move in a straight line, we repeatedly went out of track when we tried to go faster than the self-driving car. The self-driving car manages to move smoothly by repeatedly pushing and stopping the acceleration button at high frequency.

Mathematics and Physics

I am about to finish my two undergraduate degrees in Mathematics and Engineering Physics. In Mathematics, I am passionate about Combinatorics, Graph Theory, Number Theory, Probability and Statistics. In Physics, I am interested in Mechanics, Statistical Physics, Network Science and Quantum Physics.

The photo below was taken at a talk in the Poincare Prize ceremony, which I received for my High School research thesis, combining ideas from Combinatorics, Number Theory and Computer Science. You can read it (in English) here (please keep in mind it's from High School). My undergraduate thesis, in Robotic Manipulation, will be finished in May 2016.

Talk as the winner of the Poincare research thesis award

Non-academic hobbies

I love sports! I play basketball since I was 10 and follow the NBA. I also used to be a federate cross-country runner. Right now, I'm in the Spain@MIT team in both soccer and basketball. Moreover, although I'm from Catalonia, Spain, I am also a great Roger Federer fan!

On another note, I really enjoy detective stories and I love organizing mystery parties with my friends.