Academic research

“The College Application Problem,” arXiv, May 2022.

This paper considers the maximization of the expected maximum value of a portfolio of random variables subject to a budget constraint. We refer to this as the optimal college application problem. When each variable’s cost, or each college’s application fee, is identical, we show that the optimal portfolios are nested in the budget constraint, yielding an exact polynomial-time algorithm. When colleges differ in their application fees, we show that the problem is NP-complete. We provide four algorithms for this more general setup: a branch-and-bound routine, a dynamic program that produces an exact solution in pseudopolynomial time, a different dynamic program that yields a fully polynomial-time approximation scheme, and a simulated-annealing heuristic. Numerical experiments demonstrate the algorithms’ accuracy and efficiency.

“Human-Centered Design in Acoustics Education for Undergraduate Music Majors” (paywall), The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, April 2022.

An acoustics course for undergraduate music majors should take advantage of the natural affinity between acoustic science and musical practice. In this study, current students and recent graduates of one university’s music school were surveyed with the goal of assessing their unique needs in an acoustics curriculum. The results of the survey are reported, and several curriculum recommendations are provided based on the principles of human-centered design. In particular, the acoustics course can harness musicians’ intuitive understanding of sound by incorporating musical instruments into classroom demonstrations. Also, acoustics instructors should strive to introduce students to acoustical software, which is also used in the music industry. Finally, the survey findings suggest that the contemporary shift toward active learning and technology-based instruction in acoustics pedagogy is beneficial to music students.

“Characterizing Nonatomic Admissions Markets,” arXiv, July 2021.

This article proposes a characterization of admissions markets that can predict the distribution of students at each school or college under both centralized and decentralized admissions paradigms. The characterization builds on recent research in stable assignment, which models students as a probability distribution over the set of ordinal preferences and scores. Although stable assignment mechanisms presuppose a centralized admissions process, I show that stable assignments coincide with equilibria of a decentralized, iterative market in which schools adjust their admissions standards in pursuit of a target class size. Moreover, deferred acceptance algorithms for stable assignment are a special case of a well-understood price dynamic called tâtonnement. The second half of the article turns to a parametric distribution of student types that enables explicit computation of the equilibrium and is invertible in the schools’ preferability parameters. Applying this model to a public dataset produces an intuitive ranking of the popularity of American universities and a realistic estimate of each school’s demand curve, and does so without imposing an equilibrium assumption or requiring the granular student information used in conventional logistic regressions.

“Cyborgs, Cyphers, and Feminist Compromise in Contemporary South Korean Science Fiction,” Emory Journal of East Asian Studies, 2020.

SF’s potential as an instrument of political advocacy has contributed to both the genre’s popularity and its exclusion from rarified literary circles. I examine two contemporary South Korean authors and situate their complex relationship to the SF genre in the context of a longer history of “bargains” that Korean feminist writers have made in search of a literary platform.

“ ‘The Shoes of the Trees’: How Trees Find Their Footing in Contemporary Korean Poetry,” BA honors thesis, May 2018.

A study of the symbolic and discursive role of trees in Korean lyric poetry and ecocriticism. Includes first translations of nine contemporary poems and original analyses drawing on cognitive-linguistic theories of embodiment and recent research in translation studies. Supervised by Professor Kyung Moon Hwang, USC professor of East Asian languages and cultures and history.

One chapter was presented at the USC Korean Studies Institute-University of Michigan Nam Center for Korean Studies 2018 joint conference, where it received a Best Presentation Award. The same chapter received the second-place prize in Analysis at the 2018 USC Undergraduate Writers’ Conference.

“The Making of the Kim Ku Mystique,” Outstanding Academic Papers by Students, 2016–17.

A historical research paper examining the origins of a prominent Korean nationalist and anticolonial activist’s high standing in contemporary Korean political and social thought. Sole undergraduate winner of one of four 2017 Phi Kappa Phi Student Recognition Awards presented at the 2017 USC Academic Awards Convocation.

“Four Glimpses of Han in Lisa Lee’s Fiction,” USC–UM Korean Studies Exchange, 2017.

A literary analysis of an up-and-coming Korean American novelist’s work offering a new analytical paradigm for research on han (roughly, melancholy or resentment) in the Korean American context. Received three awards: Best Presentation Award and honorable mention for Best Paper at the USC Korean Studies Institute-University of Michigan Nam Center for Korean Studies 2017 joint conference, and honorable mention in Analysis at 2017 USC Undergraduate Writers’ Conference.

Hall v. Florida: A Cauldron of Scientific Jurisprudence?” Scribe, October 2016.

An ethics paper examining a 2014 Supreme Court ruling on the eligibility of the intellectually disabled for the death penalty and the case’s significance for the standing of scientific inquiry in American jurisprudence. Winner of two awards at the 2016 USC Undergraduate Writers’ Conference.


“Using Data to Understand ELL Students,” August 2019.

I used my spare time during my Fulbright grant to teach myself statistics and Python. In this essay, I explain rudimentary data analysis techniques that ELL teachers can use to better understand their students. I also compute the perfect classroom temperature.Presented at Fulbright Korea’s fall conference, Gyeongju, October 2019.

How Do We Learn What’s True? Narrative Fluency and the Pedagogy of Information, February 2019.

I created this digital essay in response to what I saw as an unquestioning embrace of trendy information-literacy pedagogies among fellow teachers and people who write about education. It is the first in a series about surviving in a world bereft of epistemological signposts.

Presentation videos

My YouTube channel includes recordings of many of my conference presentations, along with accessible summaries of my research and a few Julia and Python tutorials.

Broken links

If you are looking for the “Published Pieces” section from my old website, which had links to my work at the USC Daily Trojan and various litmags, here you go. Be warned that many of those links are dead.