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Contacts

109028, Moscow,
11, Pokrovsky boulevard

Phone: +7 (495) 531-00-00 *27254

Email: computerscience@hse.ru

 

Administration
First Deputy Dean Tamara Voznesenskaya
Deputy Dean for Research and International Relations Sergei Obiedkov
Deputy Dean for Methodical and Educational Work Ilya Samonenko
Deputy Dean for Development, Finance and Administration Irina Plisetskaya
Article
A randomized coordinate descent method with volume sampling

Rodomanov A., Kropotov D.

SIAM Journal on Optimization. 2020. Vol. 30. No. 3. P. 1878-1904.

Article
ML-assisted versatile approach to Calorimeter R&D

A. Boldyrev, D. Derkach, F. Ratnikov et al.

Journal of Instrumentation. 2020. Vol. 15. P. 1-7.

Article
An accelerated directional derivative method for smooth stochastic convex optimization

Dvurechensky P., Eduard Gorbunov, Gasnikov A.

European Journal of Operational Research. 2021. Vol. 290. No. 2. P. 601-621.

Book chapter
On pattern setups and pattern multistructures

Kuznetsov S., Kaytoue M., Belfodil A.

In bk.: International Journal of General Systems. Iss. 49. 2020. P. 271-285.

Book chapter
Finite Time Analysis of Linear Two-timescale Stochastic Approximation with Markovian Noise

Kaledin M., Moulines E., Naumov A. et al.

In bk.: Proceedings of Machine Learning Research. Vol. 125: Proceedings of Thirty Third Conference on Learning Theory. 2020. P. 2144-2203.

Academic Mobility in the Pandemic - Paris Experience

Academic Mobility in the Pandemic - Paris Experience

Here is Mikhail Kazantsev, a second-year student of the Financial Technologies and Data Analysis master's programme. He is currently studying in Paris at École Polytechnique via a mobility programme. We talked to him about academic mobility in the midst of a pandemic.

In the beginning

It was not difficult for me to participate in student mobility in the current situation: I had been dreaming about it for quite some time, and my only fear was that countries and universities would cancel everything because of the pandemic.
Getting to France was the difficult part - I did not know whether there were any flights at that moment. Information was scarce: one could either find expensive "take-away flights" of the French embassy, or the constantly cancelled usual flights, as well as flights with lots of transfers. Also, at some point they stopped issuing visas, and I didn't know for weeks if I would even get a visa. In the end, I opted for a transfer flight to Istanbul, since both Russia and France had already opened flights to Turkey. One sleepless overnight and here I am in Paris!

Students here and there

There were about fifty applications for the autumn trimester at École Polytechnique, but only about twenty-five people ended up coming. I don't know if they couldn't come because of the coronavirus or some other reason. An interesting fact is that half of those who came through the mobility programme are French studying at universities abroad (five people came from EPFL in Switzerland). École Polytechnique is a very status institution in France, so many people want to get a record in their CV about it.
I cannot point out any particular differences between Russian and French students; on the contrary, in my view, students are similar the world over; for example, we all constantly put off projects and assignments until the deadline.

École Polytechnique

Until very recently École Polytechnique didn't have the usual bachelor-master system - here students take three or four years to complete the Cycle Ingénieur polytechnicien - literally polytechnic engineer cycle. At the end, they receive a polytechnic engineer's degree, which is broadly similar to a master's degree. The secret of the three-year degree is that almost all students take two- or three-year courses in preparation for the so-called grandes écoles, affectionately called prépa (from Classe préparatoire). The teaching load at prépa is one of the highest in Europe - between twenty-nine and forty-five hours of full-time study per week plus homework - but that's what makes École Polytechnique such a prestigious place, and its graduates so desirable to employers.

I am now in the third year of Cycle Ingénieur. Here, we study in terms of trimesters: there is a spring and an autumn trimester, and a summer one for an internship. Each class lasts two hours without interruption, and almost every subject involves a lecture and a seminar. So if you have, for example, two classes scheduled for Monday, you might have to study from 8.30 to 18.30 with an hour lunch break between classes.

Of course it's a bit hard to judge the differences in the learning process: I studied at HSE University for a year, and at École Polytechnique for two months, and even those by distance learning. But, for example, from what I've already noticed - many computer science courses, especially now, have group or single projects instead of exams. As a student, of course, I fully welcome this approach, because projects are often much more interesting than studying for exams.

Another difference is that at HSE University, computer science in general and machine learning/data science in particular are taught more extensively. It's also much bigger than École Polytechnique - there are about three thousand students here. Also École Polytechnique specializes mainly in mathematics, but its courses can be in many different areas (although, unfortunately, most of them are taught in French).

Studies

When I first arrived, the university tried to take classes offline. I even managed to go to one class, but then the number of cases in France skyrocketed and everything was switched back to distance learning.

Of course, it's not a pleasant situation because it's more difficult to meet the local students and interact with them or the teachers. This especially affects language courses, as it does my French class. But we try not to be discouraged, and the recent lockdown from which France is just starting to emerge was much easier to endure on campus because my friends were near.

The difference in curriculum in my case is insignificant: at HSE University I would be studying Text Analysis, while here I'm studying Image Analysis (Text Analysis is scheduled for the second trimester anyway).

For the first trimester I took Data Visualization, Machine and Deep Learning and Image Analysis and Computer Vision. I like all of the courses, but I can probably single out the first one. This course is a mixture of data analysis and front-end programming (which is a new area for me), and it's also taught by a cool, passionate lecturer who organizes interesting workshops - all of which together makes for an impressive result.

My typical day here is not much different from the Moscow one - the main difference is that at HSE University I have classes in the evenings, and I work in the daytime. On the other hand, almost all classes start in the morning, and sometimes they last from 8.30 to 18.15. On some days, however, I am free already at 12.45, or do not study at all.

Life outside the university

In my spare time, I mostly socialise with other exchange students. We used to go to Paris, but now we just get together in someone's room and play board games, write music, watch something or just hang out, and I was lucky enough to bring my guitar. We got in the habit of getting together every evening, at least for a while: I always wanted to live in such an atmosphere and envied the guys from the dorms. But dormitories here are not much like ours either: everyone has their own studio flat, and their significant disadvantage is the rent. In any case, I am glad that I still managed to find such an atmosphere, because I am already used to the fact that all my friends in Moscow live far away.

Mikhail Kazantsev

Tips for future mobility participants

If you are going to France, I would recommend learning at least some French. Before the trip, everyone told me that the French were not very good at English, but I didn't really believe it. It turned out that many French people, especially the older generation, do not speak English at all and in such situations, for example, you have to explain with gestures that you want to buy a croissant in a bakery. It's also a good idea to bring your own bedding - the dorm might not have it, and you'll have to look for the nearest IKEA.

Paris is the best city for pandemic mobility because there are no tourists at all - I got to the Eiffel Tower in four minutes, the Louvre in two, I think that's close to world records.

Speaking of travel cards, the only one possible student card in France is ImagineR for a year at 350 euros, so think and calculate ahead. If you are planning to stay in France for more than five months and want to get a card, order it online before you arrive, otherwise you'll have to wait a month to have it made and mailed to you. All other passes are valid for calendar weeks or months, so don't buy a monthly pass on the 28th in the hope that it will be valid for thirty days (I have a bitter experience of buying a weekly pass for €22 on a Friday). Take your photo with you - at the airport you can immediately make a Navigo pass for a week, which is better than buying a ticket for a single trip, which in the case of the route Aéroport Charles-de-Gaulle - École Polytechnique, will cost you 15 euros.

Finally, of course, I would like to thank HSE University and my programmer’s study office for this amazing opportunity! And to those in doubt I say that if you want to go to study in Europe as I wanted to (that is, strongly) - do not give up while preparing documents, choosing the university, selecting courses, writing motivation letters, because the result will pay back the efforts tenfold!

Find out more about our academic mobility programmes here.