Ali Arslan - PhD student
Ali Arslan's research focuses on the Analysis of Fluid Flows using Convex Optimisation.
"I studied Astrophysics at UCL for four years for my Master's. After graduating from UCL and not having secured a job in industry or a PhD position, I spent a year teaching, during which I rediscovered my passion for learning. Following some good fortune, I sort of fell (very pleasantly) into the CDT for Fluid Dynamics across scales at Imperial."
Research and Applications
"I would like to share an analogy to better explain my research. Imagine you want to drink a glass of milk: there are several ways you can go about this. If you want to be rigorous, you could find a plot of land buy some cows, feed them, and eventually milk them for this beverage you desire. Alternatively, you find a farmer with cows, and buy the milk from them. But in the best-case scenario, you pour a glass of milk from your fridge."
"My general aim is to understand emergent properties of fluid flows (the glass of milk), without having to obtain explicit solutions or carry out intense simulations (building a farm), by posing a suitable convex optimisation problem. The first problem I have been considering is quantifying the variation of the convective heat transport in convection that is driven primarily by internal sources of heat, with respect to the control parameter of the system- the Rayleigh number."
Studying for a PhD
"It can be an environment within which you control your productivity, where you can intellectually engage with people from across the planet, where the questions posed are open-ended and warrant epistemological considerations. These factors made it appealing to me."
"I have a question and then seek an answer, whatever means may provide me with an opportunity for answering these questions is an avenue I would walk down. The traditional route for which is in academia which is where I anticipate I would gravitate towards."
"Being in control of the direction of research brings a great deal of responsibility, but it is an exhilarating level of freedom. As an undergraduate, you read papers by experts in a field, and you naturally consider those academics as titans in their fields. Yet during a PhD, you get the opportunity to meet, talk, collaborate and even disagree with these professors, and it is an experience to cherish and enjoy (especially the disagreeing part!)"
"Sometimes the expectations do not meet the reality. On numerous occasions, my research has left me realising that reality is so much more complicated than I anticipated, especially when one positive result convinces me that my method works. So, I would say being cognisant of the reality that most of the time you will be wrong, yet that this is fine, is challenging and difficult to face. Overcoming this strife is akin to the struggle of Sisyphus, doomed to push a boulder up a mountain only for it to return to the bottom every day. It is important to start enjoying the process of pushing the boulder, as I assume Sisyphus eventually did!"
"If I could go back in time before my PhD, I would want to consider what it is I want much more carefully - specifically by reading the exact research carried out by academics. For most, the initial research topic of a PhD is prescribed by the supervisor, so it’s good to take time in considering what it is they do. The Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) was well structured to give us the opportunity to select a research topic both for the MRes and the PhD that has since followed."