BSc in Computing Science
MSc in Applied Mathematics at SFU
Current Position: PhD Student in Computing Science at SFU
As an SFU computing science major, I gained valuable experience working in the Autonomy Lab http://autonomy.cs.sfu.ca/, a robotics lab concerned with building life-like machines and increasing autonomy (self-control and self-maintenance) of robots. During Summer 2005, working in the Computer Vision Lab http://www.cs.sfu.ca/~colour/ allowed me to focus on projects related to medical imaging (measuring the real-world size of skin cancer tissue from stereo images for the purpose of quantitatively measuring the spread of the cancer over time). With the depth of many math and physics courses, this was the impetus that convinced me to move to the applied mathematics major. During Summer 2006, I worked with Dr. Ralf Wittenberg on a numerical study of a nonlinear PDE (partial differential equation) which exhibited pattern forming as well as chaotic behaviour. The PDE was originally developed to model the suncups that form the surface of snow on mountain slopes due to exposure to sunlight (this page on my webpage has some info and movies from my work: http://www.sfu.ca/~pbastani/result.html.
During Summer 2007, before starting my master's studies, I worked at Radical Entertainment, a video gaming company in Vancouver. In this internship project, supported in part by MITACS, http://www.mitacs.math.ca/, I implemented an algorithm for simulation of deformable objects (e.g. mattress, jello, ...) in C++. The algorithm relied heavily on mathematics (mainly linear algebra) and basic physics.
I completed my master's degree in the area of queueing theory while working as a member of the Complex Systems Modelling Group at IRMACS, http://www.irmacs.sfu.ca . My thesis work was concerned with finding the number of beds needed in each compartment of the hospitals in BC so as to guarantee that the wait time of patients would not exceed a certain limit for most cases. After my graduation, I joined HIV Modelling Group, where my research was concerned with using mathematical models and simulation to assess the impact of different levels of HIV therapies on lowering the prevalence of the disease, and the financial impact this would have on the health care systems due to the decreased number of emergency room referrals that are linked to AIDS related illnesses.
I have now returned to SFU to complete my PhD in Computing Science. My current area of research is on colour vision, specifically metamerism, a phenomenon that describes how different light spectra can have the same colour appearance under the same circumstances. This research has enormous implications for how colour can be controlled and rendered in cameras and the next generation of displays and printers, where accurate recording and rendering of colours is of utmost importance.
My master's work is proving invaluable to my PhD research. One of the most important aspects of my studies in applied mathematics was the wide range of its applicability. For instance, during my Mitacs Accelerate Internship at Radical Entertainment, I drew upon my knowledge of numerical computing, linear algebra, and physical modelling to develop and implement a method for simulating deformable objects. In addition, my knowledge of differential equations proved invaluable in my post-graduate employment in the IMPACT-HIV group, as an HIV epidemic modeller, and later at FinancialCAD (FINCAD), as a quantitative analyst, developing financial risk management tools.
Overall, my extensive mathematical training at SFU has given me strong analytical and problem solving skills that have been extremely valuable in my career path. As a SFU student, I had the privilege of working with outstanding professors who perform exciting research in newly emerging fields and various applications. In addition, many areas of research--such as medical imaging, meteorology, and mathematical finance--involve multidisciplinary aspects, and attract interest from fields outside of mathematics and encourage collaboration with experts in multiple fields. And this is the very exciting aspect of Applied Mathematics at SFU.