Friday, April 14, 2017

URSP Student Jiajing Guan Examines the Correlation Between Information Entrophy and Thermodynamic Entrophy

I’m Jiajing Guan, a sophomore majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science here in George Mason University. My OSCAR project is about examining the correlation between information entropy and thermodynamic entropy in liquid crystal.

In the summer vacation of 2016, I was fortunate to participate in the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program as a research intern. Dr. Cressman was my mentor in this program. He introduced the concept of non-equilibrium systems. Non-equilibrium systems first seemed distant from our daily lives. Then I realized that non-equilibrium systems, such as weather, are prevalent. However, because of these systems’ chaotic nature, we know very little about what laws are governing the behavior of non-equilibrium systems. During the summer, we examined the effect of voltage on information entropy of liquid crystal. However, the laws governing the chaotic behavior of liquid crystal remain unknown. Then Dr. Cressman thought of the idea of using thermodynamic entropy as a surrogate for information entropy, which inspired my interests to continuing doing research on this topic and possibly finding a correlation between thermodynamic entropy and information entropy.

Honestly, I still haven’t decided what I want to do in the future. I wish to utilize my time in George Mason to explore what truly attracts me. That’s why I engage myself in research in the first place. I wanted to experience what researching feels like. After this experience, I think I will go to a graduate school majoring in applied mathematics. I hope this research experience will help me get there.

Every Wednesday and Friday, I go to the Krasnow Institute. First, I talk to my mentor to clarify the schedule for the day. Then I go into the lab to work on the data we have taken or take more data. I mostly use Matlab to analyze the correlation between information and thermodynamic entropy. Then I will discuss the result I have analyzed with my mentor and decide our next step.

During this semester, I found out how many things can go wrong in one experiment. Even though the experiment in my project only have one control variable, the voltage, there are many factors that can vary the result of the trial. Even touching the wire can mess up the experiment. This experiment has definitely taught me to be more meticulous.