Humans of SymSys: Darian Martos

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Darian is a senior in Symbolic Systems and one of the Advising Fellows for the 2018-2019 school year.

What drew you to SymSys? Why did you pick your current concentration?

What drew me to SymSys was its interdisciplinary aspects, of course! I had liked all my classes in high school and never really thought myself as just a "math nerd" or a "fuzzy," so I wanted to study something in college that combined all my interests into one fun major. I realized later on in college that thinking about cognitive processes, especially with respect to mathematical methods and applications of artificial intelligence, is fun to engage with especially when it comes to comparing AI to human cognition, and this is why I'm an AI concentration now!

Why did you decide to become an AF? 

I decided to become an AF because I love helping students out! I used to help my friends with course planning regularly, and loved perusing all the different courses offered as part of the major. I figured that being part of an awesome group of advising fellows and being paid to talk about courses or help students out seemed like too good of a gig to pass up.

What’s your favorite SymSys-related class that you’ve taken?

Right now, I'm in CS 224N taught by Chris Manning, and I think that is my favorite course that i've taken at Stanford. Close friends and colleagues know Chris Manning is my fav professor, just in that his research is so cutting edge and has shaped modern natural language processing. His course, 224N, is probably my favorite because all the research in the class is cutting-edge and deep learning is super cool to learn about! We did two projects recently on machine translation, and both projects made me realize that machine translation is probably my favorite subtask in AI/NLP, and is an inherently difficult problem that still requires further work to be done. Other than CS 224N, some other courses I usually recommend to all my friends as my favorites include CS 124, PSYCH 70, and LINGUIST 130A.

What's one piece of advice you'd like to offer to younger students?

Take time for yourself! Go off campus more often, I never believed in the Stanford bubble just because I will literally bike to Palo Alto or Mountain View, or take a train to San Francisco/San Jose just to spend time on myself. It can be stressful being a student, and I keep myself grounded by spending time away from the university when I'm able to. 

What's something cool you've worked on? 

Currently, as part of CS + Social Good project team, we are working on an application or Google extension that can detect fake information online and provide factually accurate sources. I'm working on the machine learning and information retrieval processes that are at the backend of the platform. Fake news detection is an important need that has to be addressed, especially with respect to government sources. If you're interested in joining my team for Spring quarter, feel free to reach out to me!

What (loosely) SymSys-related topic are you excited about right now?

As I mention above, I think machine translation is such a cool AI field and is something I'd want to keep up with. Otherwise, general NLP and reinforcement learning are AI-subfields that interest me. Outside of AI, SymSys-related topics that interest me include social psychology, human bias in cognition, cognitive heuristics, the mind and body connection, syntax, and semantics/pragmatics!

What other groups or activities are you involved with at Stanford?

I'm also involved with Stanford PASU (Stanford Pilipinx American Student Union), the Filipino/a/x-American group on campus focused on issues relating to our culture. I'm currently an FO of the organization and also work extensively in our Youth Leadership Conference that happens in Winter. I'm also part of the CS+Social Good project team as I described above.