Computer Science and Music Personal Statement
One word can give a great summary of my life; Kenneth - the name of my melodeon. Over a number of years I've shown dedication to and enthusiasm with an instrument I discovered purely by accident at primary school with no prior interest in folk music. It has allowed me to approach logical thinking and problem solving in a creative fashion; these two skills could prove invaluable in the world of computer science. Being a diatonic instrument, the melodeon is fairly limited in its capabilities. I have to think outside the box, much like I do in mathematical proofs. There is also another link between melodeon playing and proofs: I don't always end up with the intended result, but how I get to the end generally sounds (or looks) pretty good. Playing my piano allows me to explore a practically unlimited world. I enjoy composing and like to think of this as problem solving; there are many solutions, all of them equally beautiful, the more you can find the better.
During my A level studies so far, I have discovered a wealth of new mathematical concepts that interest me, many to the point of leading me into further investigation and research in my spare time. Physics introduced me to the concept of superposition of waves; exploration of this topic in my spare time led me to discover the wonderful links between music and mathematics. I love combining notes to make gorgeous harmonies and now I can begin to understand the mathematical wonders that underpin the magic of the sound. In maths and further maths, I have discovered a range of interesting topics in both pure and applied modules such as complex numbers, statistics and matrices, all topics which I understand to be transforming modern computing. I have also learnt about algorithms in decision mathematics. I had previously discovered this word at the age of 12 when learning to solve the Rubik's cube. But it had no real meaning to me until the beauties of algorithms such as merge sort and Pagerank were shown to me in a Marcus Du Sautoy documentary on the subject. I believe that algorithms are a fundamental part of computer science; without them, programming wouldn't exist and computers wouldn't function.
Having recently discovered the topic machine learning has started become an interest of mine. In order to attempt this for myself I have begun learning R. I believe I would like to pursue the topic of programming with data; it will allow me to explore my major interests in computing, maths and science in a modern field that is beginning to change the way we use computers. When I'm not playing an instrument or using R, I'm generally sat in front of a computer, with the sole aim of challenging myself. Project Euler has allowed me to solve mathematical problems thinking logically and algorithmically, in ways I cannot dream of achieving simply by playing instruments. To complete the problems, I have been using Python, admiring how the language structures itself almost perfectly due to the syntax. I particularly enjoy trying to solve some of the problems lacking an obvious mathematical solution, such as calculating the number of possible routes through a 20x20 grid by travelling only right and down. At first glance, it seemed beyond me but I soon realised I could use my statistics knowledge to solve it as an arrangements problem.
On the bus to school, I have enjoyed reading books such as How Many Socks Make a Pair by Rob Eastaway and Music of the Primes by Marcus Du Sautoy, accompanied music from James Rhodes, a great classical pianist I discovered by typing my name into Google. Despite being unable to properly comprehend the Riemann hypothesis, I can fully appreciate the potential beauty of the mathematics and music that is hidden in the mystery of the unpredictable world of prime numbers.
I have long been intrigued by computers and what they can achieve. Computer science will allow me explore my interests in computing whilst utilising a subject I have long adored at school.
As it has long been my greatest interest, I decided to discuss my love of folk music and how this links with computer science. I think it resulted in a successful, engaging personal statement (Cambridge gave me an offer so it can't have been too bad).