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PhD grant recipient, keen traveller, and avid curler, David Kuboň works on cutting-edge web projects for Salsita clients like eBay
Every workday morning, David Kuboň enters a bakery next door to the Salsita offices in Prague. The staff greet him with a nod and prepare his usual order — a croissant and a blueberry pastry.
With this treat packed in a paper bag, David continues to his office, where he works as a full-stack developer at Salsita.
Working alongside a group of highly skilled developers, he has earned a reputation for being smart and easy-going. With a stack composed of Node.js, TypeScript, React and MobX, he is currently working for eBay on a sophisticated real-time information dashboard for viewing key performance indicators of their online properties.
“David is a professional in every sense of the word. He is not only an exceptional engineer, but he also approaches his work with passion and care. David is a star and we're lucky to have him,” said David’s project manager Alfred DeRose.
David has been active in other fields as well. Apart from being a keen traveller and a devoted curling player, he is a published academic. Recently, he received a grant for his doctoral dissertation topic on recognition of picture languages.
Like father, like son
David comes from the city of Teplice in the north of the Czech Republic. During his secondary school years, he considered various future career paths. For instance, he liked the idea of becoming a movie director and even successfully finished a film. But there was a role model that helped him to make what, he feels in hindsight, was clearly the right choice. Although the reasons for his choice might have been different to what you think.
“The biggest influence was my dad,” David admits. “His work looked really cool from a child’s perspective.”
An Associate Professor of Computational Linguistics at Charles University, David’s father provided him with an insider's view of a field that was still largely inaccessible to the general public. But the eyes of a child have a rather different point of view.
“When I was a kid he spent most of his working days in Prague. Therefore I mainly saw him writing scientific papers, but more importantly to me, playing computer games at home. To be clear, I never thought his job was playing computer games, but it evidently allowed him to play a good deal. So I wanted to be like my father.”
Adventures in academia
Like his father, David has combined his professional endeavors with a commitment to academic pursuits. He received a Bachelor's as well as a Master's degree in Computer Science from Charles University in Prague with the focus on artificial intelligence. Hints of a bright future had appeared even before he set foot on the university campus.
“There is one project that might be considered the beginning of my path. It was during my final year at secondary school, when I started to work on a project called Senior Companions at Charles University. It aimed to create a chatbot that would interact with elderly people in a conversation about photos and related stories from their lives. Seeing the progress of that project made me realize for the first time what impact my work and science can have. That is when I decided that I wanted to continue working in this field.”
David's university research gave him an opportunity to sharpen his AI skills while creating a chatbot designed to imitate a fictional politician. The Politician accepts questions on political issues and answers in an — unfortunately — rather accurate evasive style.
During his university years, David decided to broaden his horizons by studying abroad. He took part in the Erasmus program at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano in Italy. Upon his return from Erasmus, David took part in another project at the institute — the LINDAT — that provides technical assistance to institutions and researchers.
“I was developing a web application that monitored server activity — both scientific and commercial. It managed access restrictions for non-commercial users and creation of reports for commercial ones. My stack was Node.js, Angular and PostgreSQL— in a way, it was my first non-trivial full-stack project.”
In 2017 David started his PhD studies in Theoretical Computer Science at Charles University. In March 2019, he received a grant for his dissertation topic on the recognition of picture languages. He aims to study and compare different models of two-dimensional automata recognizing picture languages and to propose techniques for their automated construction using machine learning methods.
David's first encounter with curling was during the Winter Olympics in 2006, when he realized that a stone sliding on a frozen surface can lead to some tense and exciting moments.
“You have this piece of rock which weighs about 20 kilos, and you are supposed to send it on the ice to get as close to the centre as possible. And the opposing team tries to do the same,” David describes his beloved sport. “I have to admit it’s a weird sport. But this way I always have something to talk about since most people aren't familiar with curling. And if they are — even better!”
David joined a curling team during his studies in Prague and now plays in the Czech first league.
Curling isn’t his only passion. He is a keen traveller and has visited almost 70 countries around the globe. He doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.
“I have an ever-growing list of places I would love to visit. Usually, I just tick them off by combining my travels with other opportunities,” he says.
“For example, I really wanted to go to the Iguazu Falls and I got to visit them last summer when I was in Brazil presenting my research at a conference. South America is my new favorite destination; I already have Patagonia booked for this fall.”
Smart colleagues and beautiful offices
As with his travel bucket list, David has a clear idea of where he wants to go in his professional life. He has been working for Salsita for about a year. His current job is to help the company to provide one of the best-known online giants — eBay — with development expertise and crucial input into their software architecture and deployment pipeline.
“David is conscientious and a pleasure to work with. He works independently but is prepared to ask questions and discuss solutions with me when appropriate,” adds Daniel Prentis, the tech lead on David's project.
David explains that he enjoys Salsita’s company culture as well as the fact that it is situated in a beautiful historic building.
“Salsita is full of really knowledgeable individuals and my feeling is whenever you are with intelligent people, it’s easy to get along with them,” David says.
“In addition to my colleagues, the office itself contributes to the great atmosphere here at Salsita. The rooms are located in a historic building and full of details like a stained-glass window. I am particularly lucky since our room has a beautiful antique chandelier,” David says.
When asked if there is something he dislikes about the company, he doesn’t hesitate.
“The great thing is that if there is something I don't like about Salsita, I know I can say it out loud.”
“Recently, my only problem has been that we ran out of sugar in the kitchen,” David underlines his statement, “but that has already been solved.”