Hassan Eldeeb, Junior Researcher and Ph.D. Student on Ping Pong & Chess

My name is Hassan Eldeeb, and I am a Ph.D. Student at the Institute of Computer Science, University of Tartu since 2019. I am also a junior researcher in the Data Systems Group and a teaching assistant of Data Engineering and Big data management courses. I completed my MSc and undergraduate studies at Tanta University. I grew up in my home country of Egypt, but I now live in Estonia (with my two sons, born in April 2017 and July 2019) to pursue my Ph.D. degree.

My primary research interest lies in the area of automated machine learning, ranging from data preprocessing to feature engineering to model building and hyper-parameter tuning. I have collaborated actively with researchers in several research projects – an example is the automatic detection of speed bumps and potholes for Uber Technologies Inc and automatic seizure detection for iNNOTEC Inc.

I have always dreamed of living in a world where I wake to find everything I need is ready in a Smart House, as well as things like autonomous driving cars and better health care, especially for older people. We are moving towards these goals using a secret ingredient called Machine Learning. Machine Learning is algorithms made by a data scientist to process the user data and turn it into such magic. In my thesis, I am working to build these machine learning algorithms automatically without any human intervention. Now, the machine can build these algorithms, select the most appropriate one, configure them, tune their hyper-parameters, and make this magic happen without any human data scientists involved. Furthermore, the produced machine learning algorithms can compete with the machine learning algorithms created by data scientists. So, do not be surprised if you wake up in the near future to find yourself in one of those Smart Houses, everything you need ready for you, and all your dreams have been achieved.

As a proud and obsessed dad, I (try to find some time to) enjoy playing Football, Ping Pong, and Chess. I first became interested in Ping Pong way back in my home village where I was born. When I was eight years old, I used to go to the village sports club with my elder brother (Salem, who is 8 years older than me) to watch him playing ping pong with his friends. They used to gather there almost every day to play ping pong. The most exciting moments were happening when there was a competition. I still remember the masters’ names of this generation: Toshka, Radwan, and T. Farag.

My favourite way to play ping pong is to exploit my opponent’s weaknesses. I prefer to start by warming up with my opponent. During this time, or during the first 5-7 points if we did not warm up, I try to explore my opponent: does he stay on one side more than the other? Which face of his bat is the weaker? Does he prefer to strike or to defend more? And so on. Once I recognized his weaknesses, I start to exploit them from time to time. I do not exploit his weaknesses in all points, so as not to notify him that I recognized this weak point. I also do not use the same trick in consecutive points for the same reason. For example, I do not repeat my serve twice in a row.

One of the most interesting things about playing ping pong is the physical exertion and exercise. Many people think that you do not lose too many calories while playing ping pong. Others assume that the players do not move too much during the game. In reality, the players can do more than 5000 steps, in addition to arms movements and other body muscles.

My favourite experience of playing ping pong was when I won first place in a competition organized by my prep school.

Looking at my other activity, I also enjoy playing Chess. This began by the age of 10 – chess was the most played game among my cousins. We play it whenever we gather, especially with M. Shawki, Hazem, and Taha. I played against many players, and I also began to watch some courses on YouTube and even read about the game so that I could play online frequently.

One thing I love about Chess is that you can play it online – anytime, anywhere. I remember my first participation in the Engineering college competition; I lost all the games in this competition! My best piece of advice nowadays is to be patient and come up with a strategic plan.

I see a few similarities between my sports and my tech experiences. My ping pong strategy is similar to the Bayesian optimization techniques. I have some hypotheses to follow, and I explore them from time to time. Chess is a depth-limited search problem. The deeper you plan, the better strategies you can build. Both these activities help to stay active and achieve small victories, and I believe it is necessary to feel the flavour of being successful, even in the non-technical world.

There is always more than tech. It is essential to have a balanced life and always consider the intuition behind every action.

  • Show Comments

  • Kotb Mohamed Kotb Baldam

    Great article Hassan, I wish I can play a ping pong match against you, can you beat me?

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