Sharon Zhou graduated summa cum laude in Classics and Computer Science in 2015. Her thesis, Ingenium, combines the two fields: a computer program that visualizes grammatical concepts into puzzle blocks for Latin students to play with and learn grammar in an engaging interface (http://TeachMeLatin.com). Her subsequent publication on Ingenium features in one of the top computer science venues in the world and the program is free and open-sourced to all (https://github.com/sharonzhou/ingenium). Since graduating, Sharon has joined and consulted several high-tech companies, most notably Google, as a product manager in machine learning and artificial intelligence. She has just begun her PhD in Computer Science at Stanford University.
"O how I love the Latin language! Virgilian verse and Ciceronian prose have helped me tremendously in composing my own writing; they have also opened my eyes and ears to admire the beautiful diction of others. From the first expository essay I wrote in high school English class to my most recent publication in Computer Science, I seek to echo their literary forms and turn of phrase. I did not know any Computer Science until my sophomore year at Harvard, but I immediately learned that it was full of logic, not unlike Latin grammar. Over time, I saw more and more shared patterns: translating Latin, for example, was like solving a constraint satisfaction problem.
I cannot stress how important it is to be a great communicator in business. As a product manager, communication is the absolute essence of the role. Even slight changes in communication can result in large swings in relationships, and it is those details that the close reading and examination of the Classical literature have led me to notice, engage with, and turn my spirit to.
At the end of the day, I like to envelop myself in nature and consider the questions that Virgil leaves for us at the conclusion—or rather, the lack of conclusion—of the Georgics. I ponder the nuanced relationships that connect us to each other and to our surroundings, and I think about the impact I want to make on the world, to which end I'd ask: when are we to channel Caesar's confidence, Horace's serenity, Ovid's wit?"