Petar Veličković

PhD student in Machine Learning and Bioinformatics

About Me

This page will house my (informal) autobiography – my CV can be found right below it, and my online profiles etc. can be found on the home page.

N.B. It is also migrated from my two-years old blog. Will be updated soon!

My name is Petar Veličković and I was born on 10th of November 1993, in Belgrade, Serbia.

I have been interested in science for as long as I can remember. It all started out naïvely, with learning simple things such as elementary mathematics and reading, but soon resulted in reading through my very first encyclopædia. It was a time where I was rather undirected in my interests, and just appreciated learning as much as I can about everything. Another thing which kept my interests for a long while are video games — particularly on the classic PlayStation One, which I had since 1999 and is still operational; a quality rarely found in consoles nowadays!

In 2000 I have enrolled at “Žikica Jovanović Španac” elementary school that afterwards changed its name to “Nadežda Petrović”. My excellent first-year grades combined with the fact I read through Nat Gertler’s Easy PCs book several times have successfully convinced my parents to buy my first PC for me in December of the same year, despite the uncertain financial situation of the time. Of course, my initial experiences with the PC were tightly bound to playing video games, however I have soon after started to comprehensively learn as much as I could about the slightly more useful aspects – starting with learning how to use all the programs in the Microsoft Office 2000 package. When I was ten years old I decided to take a step into the unknown, and got my first programming book – Visual Basic 5.0 Step by Step by Michael Halvorson. What started as yet another act of curiosity has completely captivated me, and from that moment on I was sure that this is the ultimate direction I want my studies to go in.

However, there were no opportunities to learn programming at my then-school, so I have sticked with personal tinkering for a while, and in the meantime I have discovered mathematics competitions organised by the Mathematical Society of Serbia, and a year later its equivalent for physics. It was at a regional physics competition in 2006 that I first noticed a competitor with “Matematička gimnazija” (High school of mathematics) as his representing school. Initially confused, I later figured out that a brand new experimental programme had begun in this notorious high school, to bring in talented students as early as the 7th year of elementary school. This seemed like a perfect opportunity for me, so I decided to try my chances and I’ve successfully passed the admission exam. Although my initial showings were poor (especially in mathematics subjects where I was way behind on what some of my classmates were able to do), I was able to compose myself and ultimately complete both years in this experimental class with a perfect grade average. As a result I was awarded the Diploma of Vuk. What I’d like to call my greatest two achievements of those two years were the vast improvements in my coding skills (I had worked in the Pascal programming language then and completed a course on C# and SQL), which resulted in me winning the 3rd prize at the Serbian Junior Olympiad in Informatics; and the fact I was able to enrol in the high-school itself effortlessly.

My next four years of studies were rather eventful; my school has given me ample opportunity to learn a lot of useful concepts, I’ve broadened my coding skills (mostly by learning Prolog and C++ which is now my language of choice), started delving into algorithm theory (greatly thanks to the wonderful Introduction to Algorithms by CLRS), and achieved successes at highschool competitions (I made several appearances at the national level in both mathematics and physics, and won a few awards from informatics – my highest ranking being a 3rd prize at the Serbian Olympiad in Informatics – as well as participated in the finals of the 5th Bubble Cup competition organised by Microsoft Development Center Serbia). The fourth and final year was the most eventful, because of a variety of important events. Reverse-chronologically, I have managed to gain the high-school Diploma of Vuk after completing all four years with perfect grades in all subjects and performing excellently on the final Calculus and Algebra exam, as well as completing a successful graduation project using C# - “Development of a software emulator for the GameBoy console”, which was commended by the school as the best project in the area of informatics of the year. These successes were vital to my choosing as one of the ten nominees for the student of the generation. However my most vital achievement actually occurred earlier in the year (hence why I said reverse-chronologically).

It was somewhere around my second year that I first considered completing my university degree abroad. However I wasn’t sure about it until late in the third year, when I decided on the UK as my preferred country and the prestigious Trinity College of University of Cambridge as my main choice. The main factors to this decision were its excellent reputation, the amount of students from my school that went on to study there, and the opportunity of getting full scholarships. Finally in the fourth year I have sent out my applications: apart from Cambridge, my choices were the universities in Bristol, Sheffield, Southampton and Warwick. After having attended interviews at Cambridge and Bristol, all of my choice universities have replied to me with good news – every one of them has given me a conditional offer to study Computer Science with them. However, the choice was easily made, as I got news from Trinity in May about successfully obtaining full funding for my tuition; hence, along with five other Serbian students in my generation, I have started attending lectures at this incredible town.

I am currently bringing my second year of studies to a close. Throughout the very eventful two years, I was able to broaden my views on computer science vastly, meet a lot of people from many backgrounds, and even get an early offer to do some research! I worked as a summer intern at Microsoft Development Center Serbia’s SQL Server team last year, where I contributed to a highly commended project, and this year I’ve secured a place as an undergraduate researcher within the Cambridge Computer Laboratory’s Computer Architecture Group. Apart from programming, my main hobbies are video-gaming and video editing. I am an extreme audiophile, whose music interests span pretty much all genres, and in general a fan of fine arts – particularly paintings. I am a fluent english-speaker. I currently use Mac OS X and Linux.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF).