CAS Experience – Matlab Course


I have always been very fond of mathematics and programming, and was looking for ways to integrate them; During this exploration, I came across a numerical computing language called Matlab, and decided to explore it further in depth, and look at its applications in fields like Deep Learning and Convolutional Neural Networks. Hence, my goals in this experience were to understand the syntax and functions of Matlab commands and their real-life applications.

Learning Outcomes

LO1 – Identify own strengths and develop areas for growth
I identified my strengths and weaknesses in various fields of mathematics and programming, and this awareness of my weaknesses in mathematical fields such as operations on matrices, and in programming fields such as functions and syntaxes, made me more mindful and cognisant of my skills and knowledge, and made me determined to improve my knowledge and skills in these particular fields of mathematics and programming. Therefore, learning and being aware of your strengths and weaknesses is of utmost importance to make significant progress in the field; you must know your areas of improvement thoroughly in order to improve them, and you must know about your strengths in order to avoid wasting time on topics you already have a certain degree of expertise in.
Hence, I do plan on improving my skills in mathematics, in topics such as matrix manipulation, which can benefit me in both my academics (Maths Analysis and Approaches HL) as well as my professional life in the future. Another field of weakness for me is about learning syntaxes of programming languages, and if I had strengthened this earlier, it could have been very helpful in my MYP Personal Project.

LO2 – Demonstrate that challenges have been undertaken, developing new skills in the process
I found many aspects of this experience challenging; from gaining the conceptual knowledge of deep learning, to knowing how to implement it using Matlab. One of the reasons I found this course challenging is that it involved building large amounts of conceptual knowledge in an unfamiliar field, as well as learning new syntaxes and functions in a distinct unknown language to implement this conceptual knowledge to reality. I could relate to some parts of Deep Learning and Convolutional Neural Networks as I had done an earlier course on Machine Learning, but the majority of the concepts covered were new to me. I overcame this challenge by researching more through Youtube videos, and practising Matlab commands and functions on my own.
I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride over the fact that I successfully undertook and completed this challenge, as challenges help you to develop and practise not only new skills, but develop as a human as well, as it increases your grasping power and will power, and makes it easier to learn new skills in the future. For example, through this challenge, I gained new skills in Matlab and numerical computing, which will most likely help me in my further education as well as in my future profession.
Learning new skills is important not only in education/profession, but in life as well, as it helps you gain new and knowledge-based perspectives on various things, and increases your grasping power, allowing you to learn skills even faster.

LO4 – Show commitment to and perseverance in CAS experiences
As stated before, this experience used a lot of rigorous conceptual knowledge, and also required me to learn new syntaxes and functions in a new language, which required serious commitment and perseverance to learn and practise. This increased my sense of accomplishment, as I was mindful of the efforts I put in.
This experience required a serious commitment of time to complete. This was a little difficult for me, as I have frequently observed that I tend to forget about and lose commitment of projects I undertake, and hence, this experience has taught me the value of persistence and perseverance in the face of challenges, as that will lead to personal and professional growth.
Therefore, perseverance and commitment are very valuable, as they are required for high-quality performance in all fields of life, and are also essential in learning and research.

Final Takeaways

I have demonstrated various Learner Profile Attributes during this experience:

  • Knowledgeable – I applied my knowledge of programming languages and maths to learn the syntax and applications of Matlab much more effectively.
  • Thinker – I used my critical thinking skills to choose the appropriate Matlab functions for each context, and apply the appropriate algorithm and neural network for
  • Reflective – I assessed and evaluated my strengths and weaknesses regularly during the course to try to improve on my learning process of the language as well as the concepts.

I enjoyed this activity thoroughly, and completing it successfully. This gives me a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment. This experience was related to two of my IBDP subjects; namely ITGS and Maths AA, as Matlab combines mathematics with programming, and this experience also focused on real-life implications like Deep Learning and its impact.
Though this experience has not led to significant changes in perspective, I learnt many things from this experience. Firstly, I learnt about the actual contents of the course itself; the syntaxes and functions of Matlab commands, conceptual knowledge of deep learning and convolutional neural networks, and how to implement them in real-life scenarios with Matlab. Secondly, I also learnt many secondary skills, such as mathematical skills associated with neural networks, like matrices, vectors, etcetera. Thirdly, I learnt about values, such as the value of perseverance, and its impact on life.
If I were to do this activity again, I would pick courses that are balanced between theory and practice, and I would research Matlab commands and the mathematics beforehand so that I can take in as much of the knowledge as possible without being restricted by my knowledge of maths/Matlab, allowing me to learn more efficiently.
The experience I completed has a lot of real-life implications, and is a very relevant and upcoming field in the future, and hence, by studying these concepts, I can take this learning forward and apply it in newer technologies like self-driving cars, image detection software, etcetera.
There are ethical issues that may arise from this, such as mass surveillance and tracking through facial recognition, image censorship, etcetera, and thinking about this has helped me become more principled as an IB learner, as I can now engage with these issues on a much deeper, knowledge-based level.

Saumya Shah,
Grade 11 Versatility,
26th July 2020


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