Skip to main content

5 Things About Me: High school sophomore Vikrant Sharma


Vikrant Sharma
High School Student (Sophomore)
Jesuit High School
Portland, Oregon

2015 Pacific Division Meeting awards: 1st Place in Computer Science (poster presentation) and Presiden'ts Award (oral presentation)

Background on Research: My research enables computers to learn from past experiences, much as a child would in their very first years. I developed an algorithm that selectively uses evolution and machine learning to generate solutions and computer code necessary to find that solution. It figured out what was going on, and gave me software code that could solve any differential equation you gave it. It's along the route of [the fictional computer] AI, and I hope to be able to extend its application from pure mathematics (boring old numbers and equations) to mixed inputs (pictures, videos, and even speech). Theoretically, going this route could finally crack the Turing Test—creating a machine indiscernible from a human being.

Question 1: Why did you become a researcher/engineer/scientist?
Technically, I'm not a researcher, or an engineer, or scientist. I don't have a large knowledge base nor have I worked on a singular problem long enough. But, finding solutions to problems interests me. It's the experience of tinkering that I like—and because of this, I keep changing my fields, from hard particle physics, theoretical/applied gene splicing, 3D printers, to being an entrepreneur, studying neurology, and building computers. At my crux, I'm an inventor.

Question 2: Share a comment or opinion you have on a topical science-related issue — preferably one not associated with your own field.
Global Warming—who hasn't considered it? But then again, who has seriously considered it? On one side, we have an apathetic industry, which uses eco-friendly slogans as a marketing tool, whereas we have environmentalists protesting while wearing clothing and apparel made from oil products. I feel that Global Warming presents a challenge to create products and breakthroughs that not only reverse the greenhouse effect, but are economically favorable. If history is any guide, this has been the only way to solve problems quickly and effectively. And science is famous for its slow-scaling of technologies which are too expensive to be used at all. My opinion? Pour more funding into alternative fuel research. Change federal policy to decrease our carbon footprint.

Question 3: If you could have one day in another profession, what would you want to do?
It would be ground control at NASA. Not an astronaut (yikes), but an operator in the background controlling probes like DAWN or New Horizons. I just feel that the thrill of diagnosing and solving problems on the spot on a 24/7 basis (literally, those guys get no sleep when malfunctions happen!) would be my dream vacation. Certainly not stress free, but it gets the adrenaline running.

Question 4: What's playing on your iPod/music player?
Daft Punk.

Question 5: Share a Web link/video/blog etc. that you found that really excites you and tell us why.
The best video I've ever watched is Richard Feynman on "why" questions. It not only encapsulates pursuit and investigations in science, but it also explains every problem I've had in understanding a new thing. He is arguably the best physicist, philosopher, and thinker of the latter 20th century.

Representative Image Caption
"Finding solutions to problems interests me. It's the experience of tinkering that I like," says AAAS member Vikrant Sharma. | Vikrant Sharma
Blog Name