Database Systems and Information Management

An Interview with Rudi Poepsel Lemaitre

"Since joining DIMA my way of thinking has changed. In particular, I am better able to organize my time. Furthermore, my professional ambition has grown. I have set new goals, have big dreams, and feel aptly prepared to realize them."

Rudi is a research associate at the DIMA Group since 2021. Before that, he worked as a student research assistant and managed his own Software Campus project.

How did you first learn about the DIMA Group and when did you join?

I first learned about the DIMA Group as a Bachelor’s student enrolled in Prof. Markl’s Information Systems and Data Analysis (ISDA) course in SS 2016. His lectures sparked my interest in database systems and led me to enroll in another DIMA offered course, i.e., Datenbankpraktikum (Practical Database Systems). Prof. Markl inspired me to pursue a career in data management and information systems. I initially joined DIMA in the summer semester 2017 as an academic tutor for the ISDA course. In this role, I enjoyed the opportunity to impact student progress and motivate my peers to find their passion.

What has your experience been like at DIMA (e.g., while working on your Bachelor’s thesis, developing a VLDB 2018 demo, pursuing a Software Campus grant)?

My academic studies initially began at a small university in my homeland of Bolivia. However, a few years later, I decided to pursue academic studies in Germany. I enrolled in TU Berlin’s Computer Science Bachelor’s program and initially I found it to be rather difficult. As a foreign student, I had to adjust to student life at a much larger university and found it particularly challenging to excel academically. In the classroom, I was just one student among many. Since joining DIMA, my self-confidence has grown. I am highly-motivated to keep improving myself and work hard to reach my goals. I have found that performing the duties of a tutor has been most gratifying. I am happy to see students that I have tutored avidly search for their own area of specialization.

One of the most important moments of my academic life to date was the experience of working with Dr. Chen Xu (a former DIMA Postdoctoral Researcher) on my Bachelor’s thesis. He always encouraged me to work hard, be more ambitious, and results-oriented. After many months of hard work, I completed my thesis and ultimately published the results as a VLDB 2018 demo paper. Since then Prof. Markl and Juan Soto both encouraged me to apply for a Software Campus grant, which I was fortunate enough to have been awarded. Consequently, the grant will enable me to manage my own research project, in conjunction with a multinational German company and DIMA researchers, such as Martin Kiefer who will serve as my advisor. In my opinion, Martin is a shining example how one can start off as a research assistant and progress to be a PhD student in DIMA.

Since joining the group, how have you grown professionally as a researcher?

Since joining DIMA my way of thinking has changed. In particular, I am better able to organize my time. Furthermore, my professional ambition has grown. I have set new goals, have big dreams, and feel aptly prepared to realize them. In the organizational sense, I work with experienced scientists and have seen how to conduct research methodically and appropriately. Finally, my professional network has considerably expanded. I am certain that the contacts that I have made (e.g., in the Software Campus Program) will be very helpful in the future. Moreover, I have learned many lessons from the students I have tutored, for which I am grateful.

Can you describe your research project? What will you be working on?

My research project is called EDADS, which stands for “Efficient Data Analysis on Data Summaries.” Despite recent advances in distributed computing and the availability of big data platforms, such as Apache Flink and Apache Spark, datasets continue to grow in magnitude over time. Consequently, analyzing massive datasets quickly is increasingly more difficult over time. To overcome this challenge, computer scientists utilize varying approaches to cope with the data deluge.

One approach involves computing sketches of large datasets, which enables us to approximate certain characteristics of the original data, such as the average, variance or extrema, among other types of summaries. In this project, I will research varying sketching methods and implement varying summarization analytics in a big data processing platform.

What advice would you share with future students who are interested in joining DIMA?

My advice to future students would be to work hard and leverage the collective knowledge and experience from each of the DIMA group members. The staff are friendly, approachable, and always willing to help. In my humble opinion, working with passion, amounts to not truly having to work a single day in one’s life. Discovering that passion is the most important thing that students need to identify during the course of their academic lives. In short, working hard pays off and there is no better group to start an academic career than at DIMA.