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Robert S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy


Physics, Optics, Quantum Mechanics, Math, Sports Analytics, Scientific Writing, Science Communication

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

From iPhone to IMAX -- A review of contemporary cameras and their limits

Apple ad campaigns proudly show off pictures "Shot on iPhone" in subway stations throughout the world, and directors are quick to comment on the amount of technological progress that has occurred since their own childhoods by claiming we all had movie cameras in our pockets nowadays. Yet, major movies are exclusively shot on incredibly expensive equipment and one of the first things any creator will do when trying to build their business is to invest in a fancy camera. Why is that? What limits the image quality of smartphone cameras, and what exactly is won by moving to more expensive ones? In this project, the student will have to engage in extensive "reading" covering an eclectic mix of sources including textbooks, patents, manuals, YouTube videos, Wikipedia articles and research papers to understand both the basic physics of optical imaging and the design of modern-day cameras in order to answer these questions. The ultimate deliverable for this project could take many different forms, including a literature review, an oral presentation, or an explanatory YouTube video showcasing footage shot with different cameras while explaining the underlying science.

The A is for Analytics -- An examination of the statistical metrics commonly used in the NBA

While the impact that the "analytics revolution" has had on the NBA over the last two decades is undeniable, the value of individual statistical metrics is not. In fact, the continued onslaught of new "advanced stats" has many fans questioning the value of such statistics altogether. After all, if I can argue any player's case by cherry-picking the right advanced stat, what good are such metrics in the first place? In this project, the student will read up on each and every metric commonly encountered in basketball discussions and GOAT debates, from the traditional box-score numbers to modern inventions such as Adjusted Plus-Minus. The goal of the project is for the student to understand all of those metrics and to critically examine their origins, gaining meaningful knowledge about both basketball and statistics while furthering their critical-thinking skills in the process. Depending on student preference, the project could result in a literature review, presentation or YouTube explainer video, among other things.

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