My College Essay (2/12/1978)

I filled out my Northwestern University application using a ballpoint pen, except for these first two questions, for which I typed out three pages of text.

A. How did you become interested in Northwestern? Please explain what, or who, led you to apply?

B. 1. To what activities or organizations in school or community have you given time? (The arts, athletics, student government, writing, service groups or any others._ Have you received any recognition including academic or other honors or awards?
B. 2. Please include a record of your employment or mention other significant ways in which you have spent time. Use extra sheets if you wish.

My interest in Northwestern stems from the computer activities on your campus (CHESS 4.6, SPSS), your reputation as one of the best engineering schools in the United States, and a presentation by your admissions office describing the academic and social atmosphere at Northwestern.

During my Sophomore and Junior years I participated in my school newspaper as a reporter and later as the front page editor. I was picked as the most outstanding German student during my Freshman year, and last year I was the most outstanding Chemistry student and the most inspirational mathematics student.

During my high school years my major activities have been, in succession, model rocketry and computers. After I took an introductory course at the Pacific Science Center I joined the South Seattle Rocket Society (April, 1974), a chartered section of the National Association of Rocketry. In the ensuing years (until late 1976) I built in excess of 50 rockets ranging from from competition designs and gliders to sleek, highly-finished sport models, competed in a number of meets(winning a second place trophy and a few fourths and fifths), edited the club newsletter, and controlled the treasury.

In May of 1976, I saw the HP-25 in a department store. Ever since, I have been using calculators and computers constantly. In addition to my HP-25, my high school has a Monroe 1880, an advanced programmable calculator with a digital plotter peripheral. Even with only 1k of RAM, the programmer has access to the machine language in addition to the interpretive language defined in 5k of ROM.

I use the CDC 6400-CYBER 73 system at the University of Washington for most of my major computing needs, although I have to pay for it. I have done most of my small data processing on my HP-25 because of it’s ready accessibility ( I am now using my father’s HP-29C).

Programs I have written for it include Nim, base conversions, altitude determination (for model rocketry; uses data from two theodolites), prime factorization, bubble sort (on HP-29C), generation of Pythagorean triples, and the computation of the sum of the reciprocals from 1 to 100,000 (took 17 hrs. Roughly equal to 12.09014626).

Most of my work on the Monroe 1880 has been with the plotter. I wrote a tic-tac-toe and a dots program, both of which are played by two persons, and a racetrack game. For more serious uses, I created a program which plots messages stored in memory by re-positioning the pen to any point on the page and plotting letters or digits. And for the true believer, my biorhythm plotting program calculates a person’s age in days and plots his physical, emotional, and intellectual cycles over a 64-day period.

Using North Star Disk BASIC on a SOL-20 at the Retail Computer Store in Seattle, I wrote a number of programs. The games included moonlanding, Hi-Lo, Mastermind, Keno, and Nim. I also wrote and interactive Life program that allows you to create an organism and watch it change through successive generations. At the prodding of some of the people who worked there, I also wrote mailing list and inventory control programs using disk files which allowed updating, inserting, deleting, and alphabetizing of records.

I have been using FORTRAN IV for most of my data processing at the University of Washington. Some of my programs include Life, linear, exponential, logarithmic, and power curve fitting (in one program), sorting algorithms, solutions of linear systems of any order, Othello, and one which I wrote for the Seattle Symphony Orchestra Players Committee to help them evaluate contract offers as an aid to establishing a new pension system.

Using the FREQUENCIES and CROSSTABS subprograms in SPSS, I analyzed to•questionnaires for the Northwest Chamber Orchestra for use in evaluating their audience.

The University of Washington also has a Calcomp 936 plotter which I started using in December [1977] to plot spiraling polygons. With their Numerical Plotting System (a set of FORTRAN-callable subroutines which use the Calcomp Plots software), this program generates points (connected by line segments) by incrementing an angle and a radius. With seven controlling parameters, the output can look like anything from a regular, rotating polygon to a series of concentric, jagged lines. I also used NPS to plot a hex board and I just completed a program for which Physics time versus distance, velocity, and acceleration plots can be generated. This program inputs values of time and any one of the other three variables in either a delta or absolute form and calculates all other values. Then, using plot instructions given by the user, individual or combined plots of the absolute values of any of the three parameters are executed. A table of the values is printed out, along with the maximum and minimum for each column, and user-supplied labels are plotted on each graph.

Currently I am working on a cross-disassembler in FORTRAN to disassemble the 5000-step ROM code of the Monroe 1880. It will include branch reference tables and a list of all indirectly addressed instructions and returns. I will also write a cross-assembler in FORTRAN for the Monroe which will include macros.

To date, my employment has consisted of the programs for the Northwest Chamber Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra Players Committee mentioned above. I am currently bargaining with a local real estate firm to develop a property management system on a local timeshare computer system for them.



Author: benslivka

19 start-ups, software, hardware, biotech, space launch, neurodiversity, learning, free markets, food, wine, cycling, walking, Seattle, Microsoft, Northwestern University, Garfield HS, DreamBox Learning, IBM, Amazon.

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