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Statement of Purpose

Matthew Obetz Computer Science

My ambitions in computer science are well captured by tracing the origins of my career. Two
established companies in the technology sector had offered me developer positions by March of
my senior year, even as I was concluding the final seminars of my history degree. Of the two, one
featured superior pay in a relaxed work environment, while the other touted an open schema backing
a sophisticated inheritance-based domain model. The complexities of the latter were an irresistible
lure for me, and despite protestations from family and colleagues I began work there the day after
my diploma was in hand. Over the past three years I have contributed considerable improvements to
the internal architecture of this organization’s model, including authoring a system to dynamically
normalize its data into indexed tables capable of performing at scale. In this time, the members
of my team have come to regard me as an authority on academic research and emerging trends in
the field, even affording me license to host occasional discussions for them on topics in application
security, program organization, and developing web standards.
While these sessions have served as an excellent medium for keeping me apprised of progress
in the field, still I find myself yearning for an environment where I am not simply summarizing the
research of others, but am instead making my own original contributions and sharing them with an
audience who views theory as more than a passing curiosity. Computer science has ever remained an
experiential field to me; the moment the discipline first captured my interest remains burned in my
mind, when at twelve years old I uncovered an abandoned laptop in my grandmother’s closet and
fed it power, only to be presented with the mosaic lights and characters of a corrupted BIOS that
begged repair. From that day on, I was driven to absorb the contents of every textbook, mailing
list, and IRC chatroom pertaining to computer science I could scrape from the web, employing the
knowledge toward everything from configuring linux kernels to reducing the algorithmic complexity
of gaming scripts I designed with the hope of shaving milliseconds off their execution.
It was also in these communities that I first discovered my aspirations for teaching. As I delved
into increasingly theoretical topics in computing, I discovered the indefinable pleasure of wielding
my experience to mentor others towards a greater understanding of the problems that hinder them.
These occasions are what first inspired me to enter a collegiate program that would have prepared
me to teach in schools. Later, when I recognized the full depth of the mastery I had acquired, they
likewise empowered me to speak eloquently in the first computer science courses I took, earning such
respect from peers in the program that several invited me to provide private tutoring and an exam
review for courses in algorithms and data structures that I had never taken. The relationships I
forged with students and faculty at Ithaca College permitted me overrides into a number of courses
I was not traditionally qualified to take, and even earned me a recommendation for one of the two
jobs I was offered afterward.
My purpose in applying to your program is clear: with your guidance, I seek to publish research
and receive accreditation which will secure me a position shaping the next generation of computer
scientists. I have a proven capacity for independent learning and an experience with the field that
extends beyond lecture halls, both of which make me a strong candidate for work at the graduate
level. Furthermore, your program’s establishment of a teaching requirement that guarantees contact
with students during the graduate process reveals that we share many of the same values, and that I
would be a natural fit for the department culture you seek to cultivate.