Experiential learning encompasses any activity in which a student is actively engaged in their education inside or outside of the classroom. At Trinity, experiential learning includes undergraduate research opportunities inside and outside of the classroom, volunteer experiences, internships, study abroad opportunities, and more.

Trinity Senior Creates New Language

By Allyson Mackender –

Tucked back in a small room in Trinity’s Center for the Sciences and Innovation, rising senior Charlie Stein ‘17 is creating his own language. Now, this language is not like the one you and your siblings created so your parents couldn’t understand your malicious plans. Stein, a mathematics and computer science major, is creating a new domain-specific programming language (DSL), with the help of computer science professor Seth Fogarty.

Charlie Stein '17 is a rising senior at Trinity University. 
The language Stein is creating will assist mathematicians who specialize in dynamical systems. A dynamical system models interacting forces over time. For dynamical systems specialists, the creation of this language is particularly important because, as of now, there is not one universal language to visualize these systems. Hence, Stein’s goal is to make an accessible language for all mathematicians to use.

For the majority of us who are not mathematicians, it may seem far reaching to claim Stein’s research directly impacts each and every one of us. Yet, it does. Dynamical systems can be used to model nearly everything, which can show researchers the trajectory of phenomenons. The example that Stein gave, and the example that his research has been focused on, is to observe the trajectory of the population sizes of animal species. Using the language Stein has created, researchers can apply a function to the dynamical system and observe the trajectory of said species. This application could help predict environmental futures, social changes, and population growth. Hence, its implications affect the general populous and are not only limited to those in mathematics or computer science. 

Stein is creating a new domain-specific programming language. 
When asked about the challenges he’s had to overcome, Stein was excited, and surprised, to report that he hasn’t had too much trouble with anything. Aside from learning R, the language he is basing his own language off of, Stein has not faced any major obstacles. However, when speaking with Stein it is hard to believe that any challenge could put a damper on his spirits.

“Every milestone is a beautiful feeling,” Stein said, demonstrating his optimistic outlook on his research. At times, Stein would even talk about the code as if it was a piece of art, calling the graphs and language “pretty” and “beautiful.” His passion and enthusiasm for the subject is palpable, which contributes to his remarkable work ethic and positive attitude. In the face of adversity, Stein is inspired by the potential for a great breakthrough. The most rewarding moment to date? “When we finally got our language to work for the first time,” Stein said, “It just made the prettiest picture. It was gorgeous.”

The opportunity to complete research has inspired Stein to consider going to graduate school. Influenced by the relationships and mutual respect he has fostered with his professors at Trinity, Stein is considering becoming a professor himself. His enthusiasm for the topic and his ability to explain complex computer science material, complete with whiteboard diagrams and online images, to an English major, like myself, certainly boasts well for his future plans.

For more information on Trinity’s computer science program, visit their webpage.

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