‘Whatever I’m Researching, I Want to Be Able to Put It into Practice’
Md Tahsir Ahmed Munna is a second-year master’s student in Data Science at HSE. He is also one of the international students nominated for HSE’s Silver Nestling Award in 2019. Munna’s master’s thesis focuses on knowledge graph-based recommender systems, and he works as a research assistant at HSE’s Laboratory for Models and Methods of Computational Pragmatics. HSE News Service spoke with Munna about studying Data Science at HSE, working on his thesis, and living in Moscow.
On Choosing HSE
Munna holds a bachelor’s degree in software engineering from Daffodil International University in his home country of Bangladesh. He heard about HSE University from his brother, who graduated from HSE in 2018. ‘He told me about his experience here, and it sounded very interesting,’ recalls Munna. ‘From the time of my bachelor’s studies, I’ve been interested in research, particularly in machine learning. At the same time, I wanted to extend my research work for the future and try out a new environment and a new culture. So he of course recommended that I apply to HSE.’
Munna decided to pursue a master’s in data science. ‘I was thrilled when I got accepted to HSE’s Master’s Programme in Data Science. Machine learning and data science in general are passions of mine. In my last year of my undergraduate studies I was doing research and published 8 papers, almost all of which were on data science and machine learning-related topics,’ he says.
I have to say that I love Moscow. I love the big parks—especially Gorky Park, which is where HSE Day is held. The only thing I am not a fan of here is the cold weather!
Data Science: Opening Doors to Both IT and Academia
‘After coming here, I feel that I made the right decision, because HSE is research-focused,’ says Munna. ‘Most of the curriculum is focused on producing high-quality research. And I also like how the department is both industry-oriented and academically-oriented. You can choose either path. In our courses, for example, our professors invite guest teachers from the industry for certain subjects, so they can teach us about how valuable our subject is in the market. We often have guest lecturers from companies such as Yandex.
Both what we learn and the opportunities we have to interact with these industry experts lead to big opportunities for us in the IT field
When asked about whether he will pursue a career in the industry or in academia, Munna says that he intends to apply to doctoral programmes in the future—but not immediately after earning his master’s. ‘When I graduate from HSE, I want to hold off on applying to PhD programmes for a couple years,’ he says. ‘First, I want to put what I’ve learned here into practice, and turn my knowledge into skills. After that, I plan to explore PhD programmes abroad.’
On Being Nominated for HSE’s Silver Nestling Award
In 2019, Munna was nominated for HSE’s Silver Nestling Award. The prize is awarded to current HSE students, doctoral students and schoolchildren of the HSE Lyceum for outstanding achievements in studies and research, interesting papers, a proactive attitude, and achievements in self-development.
In their nomination of Munna, Professors Dmitry Ignatov (School of Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence), Ekaterina Artemova (Big Data and Information Retrieval School), and Ilya Makarov (School of Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence) cited Munna’s deep understanding of Galois operators, his innovative approach to recommender systems, and his research achievements as reasons he was deserving of the award.
‘I was very honoured to be nominated for the award. I didn’t get it,’ he laughs, ‘but the nomination was a pleasant surprise to be sure.’
Munna is currently interning at the Laboratory for Models and Methods of Computational Pragmatics as a research assistant. ‘The lab is led by Professor Dmitry Ignatov. He and Professor Ekaterina Artemova assign us projects, provide necessary information, and serve as mentors.’
‘My internship involves the online Russian classified advertisement website, Avito. I make modifications to make recommender systems work faster,’ he says. ‘Every Wednesday we have a group meeting, and on Fridays I work with my professor and my other colleague.’
On Thesis Work
Munna’s thesis, which he is writing under the supervision of Professor Dmitry Ignatov, is entitled, ‘Recommender System Based on Knowledge Graph’. ‘My work involves creating recommender systems,’ Munna explains. ‘We recommend something—a product—and I use a knowledge graph, which enhances all the deep knowledge from the product metadata, i.e., the product description, etc. This in turn is used to generate a recommendation to a user (i.e., an online shopper).’
The research and writing process, Munna says, has been a positive one. ‘My supervisor, Professor Dmitry Ignatov, helps me a lot. I am glad I get to work with him. When I arrived and was searching for an advisor, I saw that he works on very timely topics that can put applied to real life. This is exactly what I’m interested in doing with my own research—whatever I’m researching, I want to be able to put it into practice. I want it to be helpful to people or to the environment or to technology. I’m not just doing it in order to publish a book.’
It is because of its real-life applicability that Munna enjoys working with recommender systems. ‘The recommender system is very applicable to everyday life. On an online store, everything is recommended to us. Everywhere we need recommendations,’ he says.
Munna says that he has been able to pursue his interest from many angles at HSE. ‘At HSE University, I have been able to pursue my interest in recommender systems in my coursework, my project work, my internship, and my thesis.’
Admissions to HSE’s Master’s programmes are now open. International students can apply online. To learn more about HSE University, its admission process, or life in Moscow, please visit International Admissions website, or contact the Education & Training Advisory Centre at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or via WhatsApp at: +7 (916) 311 8521.
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