I knew that coming into this project, being familiar with numerical optimization methods would be important. As the "beginning" period has ended and the "stretch" has begun, I am happy to say that I already learned the theory and implementation of Newton's method for optimization. With the exception of simulated annealing, this is the only optimization method I feel comfortable enough with the theory to be able to code it myself and know when it is appropriate and when it isn't. Constant learning is without question the top benefit of participating in GSOC.
On another note, I had some fun with empirical likelihood confidence regions. Below is a plot of the confidence regions for the mean daily percent return for the Google and Microsoft stock from June 10, 2011 to June 10, 2012.