Carson Kurtz ’22

Plexus Knowledge LLC, New York, NY

This summer, like most of my classmates, my original internship plans fell through; however, I was fortunate to be able to work remotely with other Williams students on a note-taking web application called Plexus. Plexus was conceived in high school by Davey Morse ’22.5, a symbolic systems major at Williams, looking to revolutionize the way people learn. In essence, the application is designed to translate user notes into a traversable knowledge graph to visualize user concepts in a manner that facilitates their learning.

When I first spoke with Davey about joining the team, he and others had designed a beta version of the app. They had successfully implemented a rudimentary note-taking scheme that concretely proved that representing notes in a graph was not only possible but helpful. In that version, the user, when typing, would have to manually create connections in their notes so that they could then be transcribed in their knowledge graph. Although the knowledge graph proved to be beneficial, the physical mechanism to take notes proved cumbersome. Thus, once I joined, it was the engineering team’s task to brainstorm and implement a second version of the notetaking system that would provide a seamless and more powerful note-taking interface.

After discussing what needed to be done, my coding partner, Matt Schleifman ’21, and I decided to augment the functionality of the knowledge graph and revamp the functionality of the note-taking interface. First, we had to create a framework that allowed users to take notes normally like any bullet list with indentation capabilities. Then we had to implement additional functionality such that each note could be processed by various text processing algorithms to translate the identified concepts into the knowledge graph. Once processed, the user would then be able to see the connections made in the knowledge graph for each note and have the potential to explore each of those connections. This required a significant amount of implementation considerations that included speed, memory efficiency, and user experience.

By working on Plexus, I helped identify a pervasive problem and became surprised by the lack of available solutions given our current technological landscape. In the near future, I am excited to take an algorithms course in computer science and potentially a graph theory course to aid in my contribution to the project. In addition, I hope to take neuroscience and cognitive science courses to supplement my quantitative understanding of how to emulate human cognition.

Don, I want to thank you for providing your support this summer. Without your continued generosity students like myself would not be able to immerse themselves in enriching summer opportunities that otherwise would not have been possible. In addition, I’d like to thank all members in the ’68 Center for Career Exploration who helped with organizing these internships. I can honestly say that my experiences these past two years have successfully elucidated my career ambitions, fueling my action moving forward. Thank you.