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Albert Cheu is a PhD student in the Algorithms and Theory program at Northeastern University’s College of Computer and Information Science, advised by Professors Jonathan Ullman and Ravi Sundaram. The Brooklyn, New York native is a graduate of New York University, where he received his bachelor’s degree. Albert’s research focuses on theoretical computer science, and he is a member of the Algorithms & Theory group. He, like many other professionals in his field of study, aspires to solve the infamous “P v NP problem” of computer science theory.
- BS in Computer Science, New York University
What are your research interests?
There are several aspects of theoretical computer science that I’ve looked into. In the summer of 2015, I performed research on Ramsey-like numbers and effective search algorithms for them. This past summer, I took an interest in parallel algorithms and clever ways of applying them when designing sequential algorithms. I look forward to narrowing down my field of study with Professors Ullman and Sundaram. I never intended to join a PhD program, but interactions with faculty at New York University and the University of Maryland convinced me that the work would be well worth the effort.
What’s one problem you’d like to solve with your research/work?
All computer scientists desire to have a proof concerning the P v NP problem: we seem unable to solve some problems in a reasonable amount of time. Is that apparent inability based in reality? This is the “white whale” of theory and while it is unlikely that I will solve it, I believe that keeping it in one’s mind can provide novel approaches.
What aspect of what you do is most interesting?
In addition to the P v NP question, there is also “Non-computability.” The average individual might assume that a computer can be made to do anything, but the fascinating thing is that there are some tasks that cannot be solved at all. These limits of algorithmic power are both useful facts for programmers and deep insights into the nature of machines.
What are your research or career goals, going forward?
I simply wish to be the best learner and researcher that I can be.
Where did you study for your undergraduate degree?
While it has a focus on applied research, the School of Engineering at New York University also has a small but solid set of theory professors. They were part of the reason I joined the PhD program at Northeastern University.
Where did you grow up or spend your most defining years?
I grew up in New York City and attended Stuyvesant High School. Living in a cosmopolitan area allowed me to appreciate diversity.