Mittwoch, 29. September 2010

Next semester

Although I want to focus on completing my medical degree (only three exams left), I also plan to continue my computer science studies next semester. However, I will switch from medical informatics to computational intelligence. The courses I have chosen for next semester are:

  • Analysis of algorithms
  • Algorithmic geometry
  • Discrete mathematics
  • Heuristic optimization
  • Algorithms on graphs
  • Brain modeling
  • Efficient algorithms
  • General theory of science
  • Efficient programs

I hope it is going to be as exciting as it sounds!

Sonntag, 19. September 2010

Mensa

I've been a member of Mensa for roughly 8.5 years now. I guess you can call me a veteran. (Although this is not a long time compared to other, older members, who have been a member for 30 or 40 years.) Maybe it's time to write down my experiences with this society.

In the first place I joined Mensa just because I wanted to take the challenge whether I'd pass the entrance test. But when I was in, I was also curious to learn what other "gifted" people would be like. So I regularly visited Mensa cafés, gaming events and lectures, and I also spent a lot of time on the Internet forums of the Austrian and German Mensa chapters.

All in all, I can now say that at Mensa, I've met some persons who, despite their high intelligence, are very primitive. Moreover, I've met many people I'd call ordinary, and only very, very few (2 or 3 out of several hundreds!) outstanding ones who have exceptional artistic or literary talents. Most Mensa members are quite well educated, with a high school diploma and sometimes also a university degree, but they are not what you would call geniuses. People who have made novel inventions do not seem to be more common in Mensa than elsewhere.

What has really brought a benefit for me is that I can now consider the limits of intelligence. I can estimate what intellectual abilities people with an IQ of 130 or higher have and what they usually do not have. I recall that at the first gaming event I participated in, I was anxious that I'd make an embarrassing mistake. But then I saw that other Mensa members made mistakes themselves which you wouldn't have thought a highly intelligent person would make. For example they had problems imagining how rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise would affect the path of the robot they were controlling. (We were playing Robo Ralley.)

Another episode: On Austrian TV, former chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer was asked the question what place he would get in a running contest if he managed to surpass the runner placed second. He kept answering "first" several times. When I told other Mensa members about that TV show in a Mensa online board, several members stated they were not able to notice Gusenbauer's mistake.

I met Mensa members who failed their highschool diploma because they did not pass the math exam - of all exams!

On my 21st birthday, I got a greetings card from a Mensa member with best wishes for my 19th birthday - although my correct date of birth was written on the same card.

"Gifted" people sometimes make logical mistakes you wouldn't consider they would make.

For everyday life, I believe high intelligence is not as important as some people think. Even if you're an academic, it rarely seems to make a difference whether you have an IQ of 130+ or less.

A trait that seems to be common among Mensa members is openness towards new or unusual ideas. That distinguishes them from the masses quite much. However, I don't think this is only due to intelligence - after all, you have to be a rather openminded personality to make the decision to join a club such as Mensa. Ideas usually aren't immediately rejected in discussions at Mensa for being unrealistic or against some traditions.

This atmosphere makes Mensa a valuable organization. That's why I'll not leave it any soon.

A relaxed day

Now I've spent a holiday like most people would spend it: doing nothing serious, neither learning nor working ony my projects. I went for a walk together with my girlfriend, played comptuer games, watched TV and surfed the Internet. That was an unusual day for me, and I think that if I had to lead my life like that for a longer time, I'd be quite bored. I still wonder how a visitor of my homepage came to the idea that my life till my 18th birthday had been "boring" - how boring can a life be when there's seldomly a day on which I have to answer fewer than 50 emails (not spam!) and am occupied with all the work needed to release a new Hugi issue every 1-4 months? The same goes for this person who stated that I was "not creative" and, later, that I "had not done much so far". Either they have very high standards, or (more likely) they read my homepage very sloppily. In the case of the latter person, I never noticed anything creative about him, and neither that he did anything of significance apart from his professional job.