A carefully calculated path
June 1, 2017
Okanagan (Kelowna, BC)
MSc, Computer Science (in progress)
BSc, Computer Science (Rajshahi University of Engineering and Technology, 2012)
“UBC has a very good reputation and ranking, especially for computer science.”
TASNUVA HAQUE WRITES ALGORITHMS, all day, sometimes at night and usually on the weekends. To say math is her life may be an overstatement, but only slightly.
“Math is the route to everything,” she says. Looking back at Haque’s trajectory from undergrad to graduate school and to becoming a mother, this statement is her reality. Her path has been carefully calculated and resulted in the best possible outcome—a happy family life in a new country, with career prospects on the horizon.
Haque moved from a small town in Bangledash to attend UBC Okanagan, where she will soon complete her master’s degree in Computer Science. Her Bangladesh community was familiar with UBC and encouraged her application. True to her nature, she researched the institution and estimated the odds.
“I always wanted to do my graduate degree at a North American university,” she says. “UBC has a very good reputation and ranking, especially for computer science.”
And so, she and her husband Nobinur made the move.
“After researching my program and deciding UBC Okanagan was the place for me, I then explored what the city of Kelowna has to offer. I soon discovered how beautiful it is. We love it here.”
A CHANGE IN STUDY DIRECTION
Haque chose computer science for her bachelor degree because it’s innovative and dynamic. She choose Convex Analysis, which is a subfield of optimization for her MSc. Having a BSc in computing science made entering a mathematics based program a logical fit. However, she had some catching up to do.
“When I started my program, I didn’t know much about convex analysis,” she says.
Using the precision that is her style, she quickly brought herself up to speed by taking the appropriate classes, which she now helps with as a teaching assistant.
“I integrated my knowledge.”
Haque, under the mentorship of computer science Professor Yves Lucet, is building algorithms to visualize mathematical problems and compute the solutions. Called convex optimization, these programs maximize or minimize the solution of a problem. For example, Lucet has a project that focuses on developing new algorithms for Computer-Aided Convex Analysis. The objective is to build tools to compute fundamental convex analysis objects. Haque is part of the project.
“My work is a combination of Mathematics and Computer Science. I apply my programming skills and build algorithms to simplify and visualize the tools that is used in convex analysis.”
The possibilities are endless and the calculations inexhaustible. Enter the world of computing systems that replace pen and paper. Haque cautions that these systems are only as good as the math that is supporting them.
“Computer science is an application of math,” she says. “My role is to help formulate the best possible algorithms and make sure they are accurate.”
Any good mathematician understands that formulas are estimates and they should accommodate the unexpected.
The unexpected came to Tasnuva and Nobinur upon the arrival of their baby girl, Nauyama. Balancing a newborn with two parents in university hasn’t been easy, but Haque has stayed the course. (Nobinur, who specializes in transportation planning, has since completed his MASc from UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering.)
“When I was in Bangladesh, I only needed to worry about studying,” she says. “Now, I need to take care of everything, from child care to school. I am able to complete my work thanks to the support of Professor Lucet and our new Canadian community.”
After slightly recalibrating her path and by working round-the-clock flexible hours, Haque’s dedication will pay off. She will soon defend her master’s thesis, “Computation of Convex Conjugates in Linear Time Using Graph-Matrix Calculus,” during which she received continual funding as a University Graduate Fellow.
She has been particularly motivated by her membership in COCANA (the Centre for Optimization, Convex Analysis and Nonsmooth Analysis) at UBC Okanagan. Through affiliation with network, she was able to meet her mentor, Professor R. Tyrrell Rockafellar from the University of Washington. Rockafellar is known one of the world’s leaders in convex analysis. This unforeseen event validated her hard work. “I’ll never forget this experience,” says Haque.
Although her parents have encouraged her to continue her studies toward a PhD, Haque recognizes the importance of work experience. Ideally, for the next few years, she’d like to land a job as a computer programmer and then follow up with additional schooling.
She counsels incoming UBC students to be prepared to work hard and to be up-to-date with current methods to avoid any setbacks. And she says that UBC is the best place to combine an interest of math with computer science.