Igor Ševo, Ph.D.

Biography, work and philosophy

Quick info

Dear client, student, friend or acquaintance, I am humbled by your interest in my work and person and so, in this regard, I provide you with links to specific information you may be looking for.

If you are interested in my software development CV, related technical competencies, education and work experience, for professional reasons, I recommend you skip directly to Software Development.

An image of me where I appear well-dressed and pensive.

If you care more about my artistic endeavors, enjoy my music or want to know more about me as an artist and musician, then go to Music, writing and art. If it's the case that you're interested in martial-arts training, physical arts or any discussion of athletics, biomechanics or kinesiology, you can skip down to Physical arts.

Finally, if you've read some of my written work or listened to my philosophy lectures and are interested to know more about me, then read on through Philosophy, but do be ready for unbridled humor, gratuitous references, and unredacted personal ramblings of an aspirant homo universalis who resigned from the position of a university professor in pursuit of idiosyncratic academic goals.

Philosophy in short – a soul's feature vector

What is written ahead is most probably a very poor attempt at abridging an entire philosophy into a few paragraphs of a personal introduction. You are not judged for proceeding with resolute skepticism and utmost personal reservation, but I still dare demand you be not dismayed by the quirky and incongruent language, for what I lack in humor and wit, I redeem with ostentatious intellectual narcissism.

It rightly seems vain that anyone should bring up a website merely to present his lowly person to the wildly indifferent world, but our souls have inescapably already become property of the public domain, so if we are mandated to compress, prune, quantize and dilute our essence, if we are to butcher our being and cram its infinite complexity into a tiny vector-space, I see no reason why not do it on our own merit and of our own accord. Whether for an abundance of unsubstantiated intellectual arrogance or a deluded sense of digital freedom, I refuse, even if only in part so, corporate owners of the virtual realm to scaffold for me the frames in which I should trap my humble me, so I introduce myself here. Although, I am perfectly and woefully aware that even if I call the act fellatio and not its appropriate name, I will still be working on the same apparatus.

When the perversion of vocabulary evolves past Orwellian to being broadly perceived through the broken lens of epistemic relativism, realizing intellectual freedom becomes a daring goal, its definition uncannily transmogrified within each social group. This ostensible freedom within the confines of a judge’s vocabulary leaves me with the inexorable question of whom this introduction is intended for. Should I make a dick joke or alliterate an academic apology to excuse unwarranted toilet humor? It seems, if one longs for both worlds, he will ultimately belong to neither. Yet, the delicate balance of wisdom is performed right there on the edge, between the eternal child and the wise old man, where one can become everything without turning naïve. It takes intellectual audacity to step on that border, but not beyond, to navigate the vast dimensions of moral, logical, and physical space looking perpetually and boundlessly for that one point exactly where all frontiers cross, from which to finally proclaim “I am all and I am none”. Though that spot is almost certainly endlessly out of reach, I imagine it is a lonely place, the last exit of the last cave, where no one has gone before. Every little bit of knowledge one absorbs brings him closer to knowing the universe, the entropy of the outside world falling, as yours rises in its eyes; but it is a dreadful affair to want truly to grow – it means to change, to die, in a way. Conscience doth make cowards of us all.

It may be an endless and perhaps futile pursuit, da capo al coda, ad infinitum, but it is one that nonetheless offers meaning and if one cannot muster a meaning, he cannot will a will; and even if the part repeats endlessly, and the cadence is forever past the coda, there is a new line, a new voice of the composer from beyond the paper, that can be heard mellowing mellifluously through the infinite and perfect counterpoint of nature. No, I do not mean god, you pretentious coward, I mean whatever could be beyond, along such an axis of reasoning, be it objectifiable or counterfactual, meta-conscious or metastatic – I am not trying to make theological claims, I am merely poeticizing metaphysics, l'art pour l'art, though poetry is often nothing but a smart way to make a fart joke. Though it may seem otherwise, this inept verbal egotism is not a reflection of my character, only an unavoidable side-effect of attempting to layer a personal introduction beneath a façade of cynical philosophy. If you can see through the words a benevolent sort of idealist humor, and beyond it my humble facetious soul, then I sincerely hope we meet in person. If you, however, believe me full of proverbially proverbial shit, make solace in the fact that for that very reason I think the same of you.

To divorce philosophy from practical life would be to commit crime against one’s own character – admittedly or not, we all act out and through our principles, and so their consignation to the domain of afterthought is nothing more than a denial of one’s own being, a feeble proclamation of meekness before the feet of a domineering society, officious for the same dread. So, no, I will not write a simple biography, devoid of me, but riddled with trivia, but rather assume that whoever is inclined to read my writing is willing to know me, though it does occasionally hold true that the little details are by far the most important. That in mind, I can resolutely claim to substantiate in practice my proclaimed goals of evolving towards homo universalis, in that I not only do science and engineering, write, compose, play music and paint, but I devotedly and passionately engage all manners of physical activity, primarily martial in intent. Thus, I dare gratuitously ridicule nerds and jocks alike, I belong to neither of their castes.

When one does not waste his time on stupid trivial pursuits, years to achieve set goals become less significant and the learning rate swiftly raises, but if you are nonetheless interested in my age, it most likely means you are a woman, so I am manifestly obliged to inform you that I am 11599.15 days old, experienced, motorically fully functional and abundantly technically versed and I will refrain neither from jokes with sexual inuendo nor from personal metaphysical reflections on having overawed the vagina dentata.

Any further expansion would certainly run the risk of turning narcissistically invidious, and the kernel of the soul has already been pointed to, that potent inner ring that rules all revealed. Ominous engineering humor aside, one of the core ideals should thus far be patently obvious: the pursuit of truth and integrity, be it moral, personal, or scientific. And, of course, there are others, equally deep and important, but they cannot and should not be revealed prima facie, and those, dear respected reader, if you find a bit of yourself among these few paragraphs, I hope we can discuss in person.

Software development

I'm a former university professor, with a Ph.D. in software development (machine learning). Although I shirk away from the word career, I do possess an inherent proclivity towards advancement, whatever work-environment I happen to be part of. In that respect, I'm primarily focused on machine learning, mainly because of the insights into human and general learning that arise from understanding how neural networks work. I've worked with many types of machine learning systems, and my dissertation was written on this topic.

Though it may seem, given the rest of this text, that I have settled on an apparently optimal configuration, I am always open to new opportunities. I like to optimize, and if provided an offer that could serve for the mutual benefit of both the offering party and myself, I am certainly open for discussion. I'm currently an assistant professor, but am employed at HTEC Group, and am working on several projects, both as a software developer and in a semi-professional capacity (stock photography and stock music included), but there's always room for improvement and reconfiguration. If you want to contact me, you can use the links provided in the footer.

As far as programming languages go, C# and C++ quite suite my style, but I'm fundamentally agnostic towards specific technologies and languages and mostly choose them based on the task at hand. I am quite comfortable with Python and JavaScript, though I utterly despise their basic premises. I've also written software in Java, C and assembly. However, I'm fairly adept at learning programming languages, if a particular task demands it. I've developed many commercial products, both in teams and as a freelancer. I enjoy developing algorithms for solving specific problems and enjoy all kinds of puzzles. Here's a short list of some of the things I've made over my 18 years in the software industry (in no particular order of relevance). This is only a fraction of the things I've done, in terms of software development, but it provides a nice overview of various fields I've worked in.

  • Over 100 apps for different platforms (mostly Windows, some for Android), from stopwatches over content-aggregators to large software applications for specific user-groups
  • Road vehicle tracker and detector deployed for surveillance (Python and Tensorflow with a modified SSD neural network)
  • Several computer games (using Unity engine, some with VR tested with Oculus DK2; one with subcutaneous tissue simulation)
  • A neural network trained with transfer learning for aerial image classification (UCMerced and NWPU-RESISC45; published in IEEE Geoscience and Remote Sensing Letters as one of the first papers of this type with state-of-the-art results)
  • An algorithmic approach for automatic polyp detection in colonoscopy (published in Computers in Biology and Medicine)
  • Procedural music composition software suite (written in C#, including submodules for MIDI functions, mini-DAW with a VST host, audio rendering, audio conversion, text description generation and style input compiler; the suite also included a few external utilities I wrote which I had intended to use for automated upload to stock music websites)
  • Procedural generation language compiler for generating any procedural content (this was an experiment using automata for compiler specification and my first attempt at a generalized procedural generation language)
  • Automatic method memoizer (a runtime utility module that emits IL code to add memoization to C# methods; this isn't a big deal, but it's a nice tool project example)
  • A major school website done from scratch (it was done in ASP.NET Web Forms, C# and MSSQL as the DBMS, and implemented PDF generation, video transcoding, image conversion and a custom CMS from scratch; it was done when ASP.NET MVC was still in its infancy)
  • Several many-body and particle simulations paralellized on a GPU (some are done in OpenCL, some in CUDA; with either OpenGL or DirectX for rendering)
  • Custom convolutional neural network framework parallelized for GPU execution (also written in OpenCL and CUDA, with C# API exposed)
  • A compression algorithm based on Huffman coding and LZW (written in C++; it beat RAR and Zip in text message compression — I had intended to make an efficient messenger platform, but later abandoned it in favor of other projects)
  • An automatic scoring system that runs in a virtualized environment (used for scoring student exams, based on the IOI system, but written from scratch in C# and assembly, with Windows-Linux interop)
  • Website content and video crawlers (C# server and JavaScript in-browser client; an app for using regular expressions to crawl content into XML files — I used to crawl content relatively often, so I needed a tool for doing this more efficiently, because I got tired of recycling my old code for this across different projects)
  • A suite of apps for Dungeons and Dragons games (this is only notable because I've paid special attention to the UI/UX, so the apps reflect the D&D style and feel, while being digital; I also used Bing image search to crawl the images of all the monsters and filter them according to their content, while, of course, attributing the original authors, because I'm not a douche)
  • VST equalizer plugin with pitch detection for pitch-dependent equalization (written in C++, with Steinberg VST SDK)
  • A music training suite with an audio rendering engine and a piano keyboard UI, tuner (pitch-recognizer) and spectrometer (using UWP and C#, with low-level optimized audio management, using FFT for the spectrometer and a special AMDF-based approach for pitch-detection)
  • Word-management software with a graph-based UI for tracking definitions, synonyms, collocations, rhymes, portmanteau, etc. for writers (this is an old project that used WPF and created a colorful graph-overlay when called with a keyboard shortcut)
  • Sierpinski gasket enumeration algorithm parallelized for a super-computer (C++ and OpenMP)
  • Procedural IQ test (Raven's progressive matrices) generation app with procedural puzzle logic and abstraction and procedural puzzle user-interface (UWP, C#)
  • A software suite for nutritionists to assess patients and offer automatic recommendations (it was written in Delphi in 2008 and won a silver medal as a software-innovation patent)
  • Plenty of questionable and trolly applications (one might call this malware; I guess everyone starts programming this way – no machines were damaged and no people harmed with this software, though some were laughed at)

If you've read this far, you clearly like lists, so, here's a list of some notable software packages I've worked with: MATLAB, Maple, Mathematica, Microsoft Office (I've written a few plugins for Office as well), Adobe Creative Suite (also written plugins), Cubase (written VST plugins). Additionally, I have used all of the following technologies (and many others, which I won't list, since I've forgotten how to use those, Spring Framework being one of them): OpenMP, Hadoop, PHP with Yii and WordPress, PayPal API, F#, Haskell, Android, MySQL.

I've worked quite a bit with the Azure platform, including web app management, general systems management and VM management. I've setup custom virtual machines and virtual (and physical) networks for various purposes. I have extensive experience with Git and the DevOps flow and have been specifically tasked with DevOps management, including setting up CI/CD, deployment pipelines and tests.

I worked as a systems architect, algorithm developer, and a full-stack software developer on a variety of projects and I've also had the role of a team lead, before the role was abolished from the industry. My skills also include DevOps and project management, and I've worked as a technology lead and a technical consultant. Through these people-oriented roles, I've gained the much needed insights into the inner workings of companies, without having to start one. Also, I've been employed as an interviewer, due to my long-time involvement in education (I've been a high-school professor, university teaching assistant, university professor, and a teacher and educator for competitions in both programming and physics), so I have a reasonable amount of experience in creating and evaluating tests for different skillsets.

As a machine learning engineer, I've worked in the industry for 8 years and have plenty of experience with state-of-the-art machine learning frameworks. I've worked with Tensorflow, Pytorch and Caffe and have made use of additional frameworks such as Keras and fast.ai. My experience is mostly focused around transfer learning and multi-task learning for classification, detection and segmentation tasks where I've both designed my own architectures and modified and made use of existing ones, though I have limited experience with natural language processing as well. Since ML is a rapidly developing field it is hard to create an always-up-to-date list of all architectures I've worked with, so I will only point out that I've both made use and modified most of the standard classification and segmentation networks, worked with many auto-encoder variations and designed, modularized and trained my own specialized models.

Though I work in a highly reputable company, when it comes to learning and exploring technologies, I still prefer making and publishing applications myself. I find it to be much better for self-improvement, as I get to try out exactly the technologies and concepts that I want to, unconstrained by policies, practices and guidelines of any single company. Throughout the course of my education, I found that I have learned more from these personal projects then from working with companies and even from the formal University education.

It is hard to present in detail all of my projects, but many of them are at an intersection between different fields of study. For example, since I've always garnered appreciation for physics and was an International Olympiad in Physics competitor, I've tried to keep this hobby close to heart. Aside from writing many exploratory physics simulations, I've also explored more esoteric programming languages such as Q# and some quantum programming languages. Unrealatedly, I've written smart-contracts for the Ethereum blockchain, before I realized it was yet another trope that everyone is only in for the money. On a happier side of things, I like computer games of all kinds and I could easily claim, though I didn't exactly count, I have completed hundreds of them. I've created plenty of mini-games and puzzles and have been in the role of a D&D dungeon master for more than 13 years, during which I've written and created a plethora of branching story-lines, game mechanics and fictional environments.

I've graduated and obtained my Ph.D. at one of the most highly regarded universities in the country (University of Banja Luka). I won't list my publications and full education here, but you can take a look at my Google Scholar, ResearchGate and LinkedIn profiles for specific details.

Additionally, I've been a member of the Mensa high-IQ society with a maximum attainable score (156) on their admission test. I've since dropped my membership, as its only purpose was to include it in my CV. Numbers impress people.

Music, writing and art

Though I'm not formally trained, I've spent over 17 years studying music composition and practicing several instruments. I've always enjoyed film and classical music and aspired to replicate some of the outstanding work of classical composers, especially those of the Romantic period. I have a peculiar predilection for the classical music before the turn of the 20th century, as that was when, in my humble opinion, music, as well as other arts, started waning and the words talent and skill have began the pernicious process of their own perversion. This is not to say that I don't enjoy listening and exploring other kinds and genres of music, just that I am weary of art being ruined by ideology. Currently, I have more than 60 compositions written for various arrangements, mostly contemporary-classical orchestral music and film-style music, but am unfortunately unyieldingly reluctant to publish any of this, as my exemplars' works raised the bar elusively high and I am personally disinclined towards claiming aesthetic relativity just to save myself from admitting my own artistic shortcomings.

I'd say I'm reasonably decent a pianist, since most of my composition and improvisation is done with that instrument, but I do study many other instruments – violin, flute, trombone, horn, a guitar and a cello – though mostly for compositional purposes, so I can only play at a beginner or intermediate level on most of them. On the other hand, I've found that skills transfer relatively easily between instruments and genres, once fundamentals are solid. I've worked with audio synthesizers of all kinds and have even created my own audio synthesis engine and a few VST plugins, but I prefer the orchestral sound and using orchestration to set the tone and timber to using electronic sources. Of course, I do a lot of experimentation with electronic timbers and synth generators as well, since they can greatly add to the orchestral sound, especially when composing film-style music.

Since I studied so many different fields, I started exploring, as I like to call them, meta-concepts that are shared across disciplines. One of the major projects I've had over the years was the development of an autonomous composition algorithm which, unlike many of the recent attempts of neural composition, can be guided into composing for any genre. I developed a platform for generating audio and MIDI compositions from abstract composition specification (which involved writing, from scratch, a mini-DAW, VST host, compositional algorithm and a compositional language for specifying concepts from musical theory; at one point I even wrote a compiler for a subsegment of this software).

This procedural composition generation algorithm first demanded of me to absorb a walloping amount of music theory and distill it into a structure that made mathematical sense and could be used programmatically. This lead me to an important discovery about commonly taught musical theory — it is impractically descriptive and, in general, cannot be used to model, produce or even evaluate what sounds good to human ear. For the most part, it seems, music theory doesn't understand much about the heart of music. Obviously, there are elements of music theory that are extremely useful to composers, but they are a mere modicum among a plethora of poorly defined, obsolete and impractical descriptors. Developing this composition algorithm has helped me understand music on a much deeper, and precisely mathematical level, and improve as a composer and musician. Interestingly, this wouldn't have been possible without the combined use of software engineering, mathematics and music theory, and their cross-interaction.

I occasionally do photography, video editing and film (I sell a few stock photos a year, which, presumedly, makes me a semi-professional photographer) and I do digital painting and drawing (I've also sold stock material in this area). Unfortunately, I have only a few finished paintings, as the time required to put an idea on canvas and then resolve all the little details to the point where the work is ready for publishing is quite often too substantial to be practical for me. So, I am left with many sketches, experiments and study works that aren't of any artistic value beyond personal development.

As an aspiring Renaissance man and a philosopher, it would be aberrantly unlikely for me not to enjoy writing and language. Besides my own philosophical diaries, I writing short stories, both allegorical and purely fictive and I relish philosophical discourse of any kind. I've written several books (in preparation for publishing for many years now) and plenty of short stories in both English and Serbian languages.

Martial arts and physical arts

One would have to be stunningly overbearing to dismiss Socratic wisdom regarding physical training and I've somehow intuitively adhered to it, even before I could clearly verbalize it. Sadly, we are socially conditioned to perceive anyone academically inclined as weak, clumsy and disinterested in athleticism. I detest this rabid cliché almost as much as I detest the fact that it is so often the truth. Nevertheless, I have made sure not to fall into that category, only in part out of self-respect, but mostly for my insatiable enthusiasm for martial arts, parkour and individual sports in general.

We all garner a natural proclivity to maintain a balanced physique and a healthy lifestyle and it seems to me that it is only the modern ideological pressure that is convincing people otherwise. We intuitively value and assess health and athleticism and our concepts of beauty and elegance are intricately tied to physical aptitude and I would, perhaps because I focused on these disciplines, claim that martial arts are the best way to express what and how an individual, as a human being, is capable of performing physically.

While I was an undergraduate student, I practiced Krav Maga for a few years, before I realized it was mostly commercialized garbage designed to suck money out of people's insecurities, and then swiftly transitioned to BJJ. Currently, I'm working to combine all kinds of skills from different martial arts into a coherent system that I can make work best for me. Turns out, this is mostly MMA, with predominantly skills from BJJ, Judo, Western boxing and wrestling. There's an occasional addition from the less popular arts like Kali and Pankration, some from traditional Jiu-jitsu and Karate, and even some leftovers from Krav Maga. However, what stands to me as an ultimate athletic goal is combining all of these physical disciplines into a single athletics training system that allows for the greatest expression and building of one's athletic potential. This is what arts in martial arts stands for.

I try to be open-minded about traditional arts, such as Wing-Chun, but there's very little, in my opinion, practical utility left in these disciplines (although, I fully support practicing them for spiritual or traditional reasons). Certainly, there are many exercises and ideas that remain, albeit watered down, in these arts that can be of great value in training, if one is attentive enough to try to discern their origin and point. For example, the same kind of kinetic chaining that is characteristic of Tai-Chi is immensely important for understanding the so-called "snap" in boxing. As in everything else, cross-interaction between disciplines allows for synthesis and discovery of new ideas and principles that would otherwise be completely inaccessible. When you discover that drawing a violin bow and executing an uppercut both rely on a very similar fundamental motion, you've discovered what I call a meta-concept — an idea that transcends a single art and generalizes across many, pointing beyond what is currently known and available to you and making learning new skills that much simpler. This is what learning anything is about and this is how science, arts and physical arts all connect together to point to answers to broader, maybe even metaphysical, questions.

I base all my practice on the principles and ides from kinesiology and biomechanics (both because I love physics and because this is how most successful coaches do it). I foremost want to practice mastery of my own body and martial arts seem to express that pursuit to the greatest extent. I've trained with different martial artists, across disciplines, but have remained recalcitrant and never gotten myself to receive a formal belt from a martial arts school, even though I can easily contend with BJJ blue belts and have sparred on-par with many formal belts in Judo, Karate and other arts. So, after 10 years of doing martial arts, I'm still technically a white belt. This makes very little practical difference, aside the ever-present need for recognition — most belts will always stay white belts, in martial arts and everywhere else.