For several years now in the Honors Program, my research has focused on zoonotic diseases, or illness-causing pathogens, that spread from animals to humans, as well as the causes of antibiotic resistance. For my senior year, I decided to do something different.
I have chosen to participate in the American Computer Science League (ACSL) competition with three Academy students on my team. I wanted to take the opportunity to dabble in computer coding and consider it as a possible career path. ACSL has set up an online course for coding for us to follow, allowing us to complete online tests throughout the year on what we learn and eventually compete in a final competition during the month of May.
According to ACSL, our school is the first school in Louisiana to participate in this competition in its 46-year history, and we will be competing against roughly 8,000 students from the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.
So far, ACSL online courses have taught me about Complex Number Systems and how to convert between the forms. This includes the fundamentals like decimal, binary, hexadecimal, and octal, which are all positional base systems, meaning the position of a number in a sequence defines its value. Decimal simply multiplies each value by a base of 10 (similar to scientific notation, or a value multiplied by 10 with an exponent of a real number), increasing the exponent by 1 the farther left you go down the sequence. This means decimal only needs 10 numbers (0-9) to represent all possible values. Decimal is only a fancy way to re-write numbers that we all know with a exponent attached.
Binary uses a base of 2 instead of 10, which means each symbol represents a smaller value. Binary only requires 2 numbers, 0 and 1, to represent all numerical values due to the base 2. Octal and hexadecimal follow a similar pattern, using a base 8 and base 16 respectively. Binary arithmetic was also a fundamental aspect of the course, in which I learned how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide with binary numbers rather than relying on decimal conversions to do arithmetic. The course expanded on binary by teaching ways to represent positive and negative signs to binary sequences just by using 0's and 1's while also including methods on representing fractions with binary.
I am currently working on Recursive Functions, which provides coders with methods of implementing and filtering their code into one of multiple branches of situations in their program.
For the next several months, I will continue with the online courses and learn more coding techniques to prepare me for the May competition. As the competition nears,my Academy teammates and I will also collaborate more in meetings outside of school. Our faculty moderator, Ms. Raven Skrmetti, has been a huge support in our work, and I am confident that we will perform well and impress others with what we are capable of doing. I also know that this work will benefit me in my path to choosing a career for myself after high school at Berchmans.
gabriel paddock, '24