I am currently working as a software engineer for Google in Pittsburgh.
I was born in Quito, Ecuador at the end of the 70s. Due to my father's work I lived in Guayaquil, Ecuador; Miami, USA; San Juan, Puerto Rico; but the bulk of my youth was spent in Quito. Throughout high school I had a great interest in swimming, computers, animation, film, and music. I had a rock band with some friends and one of my compositions for the band won second place in a city-wide battle of the bands (which subsequently led to a scholarship for my senior year).
After graduating from high school I moved to Montreal, QC to attend McGill University. In 2001 I graduated with an Honours degree in Computer Science and a minor in Mathematics. Throughout my undergrad and some years afterward I was part of the rock/funk group Jai Guru, with whom we recorded a full-length album (including some of my compositions).
After receiving my undergrad I started working for CAE, a flight simulator company, in 2001. My job consisted in upgrading ancient computer mainframes (such as VAX, GOULD, and some old IBM models) into current LINUX boxes. This involved porting code from FORTRAN (and sometimes assembler) to C, developing drivers to communicate with old hardware, reverse-engineering communication protocols with old hardware, verifying the correctness of the upgrade and certifying the simulator with the required authorities.
After four years of working at CAE, I decided to go back to school to pursue a Masters degree in Artificial Intelligence under Doina Precup and Prakash Panangaden. My Masters thesis was entitled "Bayesian exploration in Markov Decision Processes" (see Research section for more details). I completed my Masters degree in 2007.
Immediately after finishing my Masters degree I started my PhD under the same supervisors. I successfully defended my thesis on September 16, 2011. I investigated equivalence notions and state metrics for fully and partially observable Markov Decision Processes (see Research section for more details).
I moved to Paris, France with my family in March 2011 to work as a postdoc at Institut Telecom SudParis, mining useful information and behaviours from large taxi GPS datasets.
I moved to Pittsburgh, PA, in February 2012 to work for Google.
Email me at: pcastr AT cs DOT mcgill DOT ca
Here is my CV (in PDF format).