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  • Writer's pictureJake Tan

Data Science Academy at Wharton

From July 17th to August 5th, I attended the Wharton Global Youth Program, Data Science Academy, at the University of Pennsylvania. In those three weeks, I got to learn a lot of new things and meet new people I might have never met otherwise.

From the course itself, both Professor Linda Zhao and my TA, Edward, taught me a lot about statistical concepts and R. The pace was really intense, covering in a day what would normally take a week in a traditional classroom setting. I learned about many concepts such as random forest, neural networks, and LASSO.

One of the highlights was our final project -- an attempt to predict movements of individual stocks using social media. Using our newfound skills, my group and I leveraged preexisting datasets to first create millions of rows of Twitter and Reddit posts, then combined these vast datasets with the change in stock value the day after the post. We employed cutting-edge tools like Corpus, Document Term Matrices, and LASSO to analyze and draw conclusions. Ultimately, we discovered that the complexity of the English language and its varied contexts make stock prediction through word frequencies a daunting task.

Outside of class, we were actually given a lot of freedom. A typical weekday would consist of a lecture from 9 am to noon, and then a 1.5-hour lunch break when you can explore within the surrounding home area. In the afternoon, 1:30-4:30, we would split into smaller rooms with our TA to work on homework and our group project. Evening were ours -- we were left to our devices after class ended around 5. In these daily routines, I explored the home area extensively, made new friends, and still stayed in touch and spent some time with my friends from high school.

Weekends, however, were a different story. Every Saturday, the entire Global Youth Program would go on a mandatory trip. On the first Saturday, we went to the National Mall in Washington DC. Our second Saturday was a trip to Hershey Park. While the bus rides were very long and the areas we were allowed to explore were limited on both trips, I got the opportunities to bond with friends I had made at the program, and still had a lot of fun together.

All in all, I had a memorable time at Data Science Academy -- a perfect blend of learning and fun.

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