John McKeown

Computer Scientist/Mathematician

About

My legal name is "John", but people call me "Jack". I am a college student from Minnesota, USA. I have a passion for knowledge which has led me to take personal responsibility for my education. Consequently, I spend time learning what interests me even when it doesn't have immediate application for the sake of obtaining a unique perspective which helps me achieve my goals.

I always thought I would grow up to be an "inventor", but as I grew up I realized that that's a somewhat dubious career path. In middle school I became really interested in computer science and started watching the CS50.tv lectures from Harvard. It was empowering to write my first useful programs and to find a new way to be creative. Over the next few years my older brothers James and Michael were entering their undergraduate mathematics programs and I was inspired by their passion for math. This led me to pursue an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD).

I am currently finishing up my senior year as an undergraduate at UMD and I've really enjoyed my time here. I am very grateful for the connections I was able to make in the Mathematics and Computer Science departments as well as in extra-curricular groups such as ACM club and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

Now I'm applying to graduate schools for Computer Science hoping to pursue research in machine learning. I'm specifically interested in the role of biologically inspired neural networks. Sigmoidal neural networks have largely been abandoned by mainstream deep learning research since ReLU activations can help solve the vanishing gradients problem, but I think we may be underestimating the value of biological plausability.

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