Office Coffee Consumption

Starting Monday, I’m leaving the institute. No more physics, but computer science from now on. More on this later.

When we started here in the institute, we bought a coffee maker to prepare our cups of coffee. We also took note of every single cup of coffee we consumed. For my final day, I evaluated our coffee consumption.

Three people were the heavy hitters of the machine: André, Ludovico, and I. Ludovico joined in May of 2014, while André and I drank from March 2012.

The distribution of coffee consumption over time looks like this:
You can clearly spot the period in which André was working in Italy and was only in Jülich for a few days per month.

In total, the coffee machine made 2937 cups of coffee, of which André drank 1248, I drank 1177, and Ludovico drank 349. Guests drank the leftover 163 cups. André consumed about 190 g of caffeine.

The highscore for »most cups per month« is lead by André, who managed to drink 60 cups in July 2015; the final period of his thesis. This was apparently quite an intense month, as it also has the highest amount of total coffees consumed (137).

On average, we drank about 63 cups of coffee per month over the whole time the machine is here, of which André took in 28, I 27, Ludovico 8. Not accounting for the year in Italy, André had 38 cups a month. And counting only the time Ludovico is here, he drank about 20 cups per month.


LaTeX Tips and Tricks for Particle Physicists

During the course of writing my thesis I spent quite some time into getting the \(\LaTeX\) stuff right. LaTeX is such a great language1, generating amazing output, and enabling so many cool typesetting possibilities. How could one not!?
I thought it would be nice sharing my meta-research with others. So I held a talk at my institute to show the most important packages and concepts, I drew on while writing my document.

It tackles writing units in LaTeX and writing particle names. It highlights a few other, smaller packages, but also introduces BibLaTeX and glossaries in more detail. The great engine that is latexmk is introduced as well. It is also the first presentation I did in LaTeX Beamer!

You probably want to use the PDF linked after the embed since you can click all the links easily there.

Local PDF

  1. Markup language. Programming language. Whatever. 


I won the PhD Prize of the PANDA collaboration!

Since 2013, the prize is awarded to the best (?) thesis in the collaboration. Three candidates are invited to present at a collaboration meeting, the prize is then awarded, depending on presentation and document.

And this year, it was me. Yay!

The slides are in another, password protected1 post.

  1. The password is the name of the experiment, all small letters. 

LaTeX Package for a Nice PANDA with Bar on P

In my \(\LaTeX\) documents, I wanted to have nicely set PANDA names with the bar on top of the P.

Not so simple, though. I found the \overline to be too large, but the \bar to be too short. So I took to the great community that is StackExchange to find a solution. And, sure enough, someone was able to help me.
Based on egreg’s code, I assembled a proper LaTeX package1, making it more convenient for others to use as well.

Today, I gave the package a small Github repository.

  1. With options and stuff! 

LaTeX Package for Creating a List of Certain Figures

For an internal PANDA note, I need to tag certain figures to be worthy and available for a public release. Since I’m at it, I’d like to collect all of those figures into an according list. Automatically.

I came up with a \(\LaTeX\) package which provides the tagging mechanism and uses this for generating the list of plots for release by \listoffigures.

I put the package up to Github. Take a look over there for all the details:

The Future

There you have it. Since the 2nd of July, you may call me Dr. Andreas. I myself am still one signature away from doing so, since the dean currently is on vacation.

As the project »My Doctorate« is over, also this blog has finished its purpose.
Well… its original purpose.

You may have noticed that I removed the play on words from the title. Instead of Doktorandi, which was supposed to be a portmanteau between Doktorand (doctorand) and Andi1, the title is now Dr. Andi — which is what I am now2. Yay!

Instead of giving you some insight into the weekly life of a PhD student, I will keep this blog around to note on some random facts from my past and future research.

Also, maybe I’d like to post some \(\LaTeX\) and C++ and CUDA and Doxygen and CMake and … snippets here and there. But let’s see what the future holds.

I’d be happy if you kept connected, though.


  1. Captain Obvious to the rescue! 

  2. Again, modulo a signature. 

Week #182+11

(Date: 29.6.2015 – 3.6.2015)
The final week is here. I will defend my thesis on Thursday.

The most preparation-intensive thing is my defense talk. A reminder: A talk of 20 minutes, summarizing in 8 slides the 250 pages of my thesis. I am holding test talks for this one quite a lot. On the weekend in front of myself, in front of my girlfriend, in front of André. And on the weekdays prior to Thursday once per day in front of the German-speaking colleagues of the institute. Everything needs to be on point, and I need to train a bit to get the length of the talk from 24 minutes down to about 20. Also the transitions between the different logical parts and/or slides need to be perfect. I think, in total I test the talk about ten times.
On Thursday, I will hold my talk and the whole defense in German. It’s probably the first German talk in about three and a half years. Quite strange to find German phrases for tracking and all the technical terms. The reason why I hold the defense in German at all is because of the Q&A session after the talk. I fear that the committee will ask questions about basic physics stuff I just know from my university studies – and there everything was in German and my English vocabulary might be a bit limited.1

For sure, in the leftover time of the week, I continue studying. I kept a few selected topics for the end, since I wanted to have it fresh in mind. Among them is some spin physics stuff, a topic in which I always felt not really comfortable in. One specific thing I learn, for instance, is how to polarize beams in an accelerator. As it turns out: Do don’t do that very easily. You polarize electrons of an atom with the Stern-Gerlach principle and then project the spin from the electrons to the protons by means of a clever RF field. After that you can strip the electrons and have a polarized beam. The spin transfer is quite complicated, though.

In addition, there are some defense-surrounding things to organize. Mainly, food and drinks at the defense. My colleague D. and I are defending both on Thursday2, first I at 14:00, then he at 16:00. Unfortunately, the usual place to deliver canapés and the likes is already booked, so we need to find an alternative. Eventually, the plan emerged: Between my defense and D.’s defense coffee, cold(er) drinks, and some fruits (since it’s suppose to be hot that day), after D.’s defense a cold buffet with sparkling wine and celebration and stuff.

My Doctor Hat with lots of small doctor hats.It's parallel.Finally, Thursday comes.
I hold a very short defense in nearly 40°C — no one wanted to have it go any longer than needed. I sweat through a talk3 which suddenly was only 19 minutes long, and a number of strange questions, which of course only barely touch on any of the in-detail prepared topics.

But, finally I’m done; it’s done! I pass with »very good« and am only some technicalities away from calling myself Dr. Andi.


My PhD journey of three years and a half is over at last.
Thanks for participating!

  1. Looking back, I probably would have managed the Q&A session in English quite alright, and it would have given me ease of mind to talk in English. So, dear time-traveling Andreas, better chose English for your defense! 

  2. Although he handed in two weeks earlier! He had a lot more time to prepare!!1 

  3. The slides for the talk can be found here. The password is the name of an panimal. 

Week #182+10

(Date: 22.6.2015 – 26.6.2015)
The last full week as a PhD student.

On Wednesday we have another analysis meeting. I present one slide on a proposition for a scheme for installing the experiment’s software infrastructure. Let’s see if it is picked up by anyone. The rest of the meeting some colleagues present their findings and tools. Cool to see other people also liking to share their stuff.

On Wednesday’s morning I travel to Bochum to meet up with the professors which are part of my defense committee. During the previous week we tried to find a common range of time for all appointments, so I don’t need to travel to Bochum three times. Luckily, Wednesday morning emerged as a common timeslot and I meet two of the three Professors I intended to — the third one was ill. In total, my defense committee has five members: My supervising professor (= the first reviewer of my thesis); the second reviewer of the thesis (my choice); the dean; one professor of the faculty more or less close to the topic; one professor more or less further away from the topic. The last three are chosen by the doctoral secretary.
The meeting with two of the latter three professors is quite nice. The dean is an astronomer and gives me some tipps on the presentation and tries to calm my nerves generally. The third, more-or-less-further-away professor, is a solid state physicist who does not know a lot about particle physics. But he worked with CUDA before, so I can explain quite something about my algorithms, the parallelization techniques, our experimental design, and such. Nice!

During the rest of the week I work on my defense talk. The task: Explain your thesis in 20 minutes and 8 slides. Problem: That’s just the opposite of how I usually design my talks. My talks have on average two (or three) slides per minute – one picture per slide to keep it tidied up. Low density. But that will not work for my defense talk. There I need high density. So: Design everything completely differently from usually… Phew! On Thursday, I have my first test talk. Then the second on Friday. Presenting a 250 page thesis in 20 minutes is very challenging, so every spoken (and written!) word counts.