about unsuccessful research experience
I am an undergrad applying for phd in CS.
in my personal statement, I would like to talk about a research experience (11 weeks over a summer) which didn't turn out so well because
1) while I was really excited about the research area, I didn't have a lot of relevant experience and relevant theoretical/practical background back then. This was my first experience in this area and it is also the largest project in scope I've done.
2) I (or we as a team) started out overly ambitious and the solution proposed turned out be quite complicated and never proven to be sound (my mentor was a very application driven person after all, and so he prefers something that produces great results most of the time to something that performs with mediocre outcome all the time)
3) had to use some other third party library to do some major analysis for the project (the reason was that this library worked on a similar but much smaller project before, even though some hacking was necessary). It turned out that there was a lot of hacking involved and solution just had too much overhead.
Essentially, the research was considered unfinished and the result not substantiated anywhere (in terms of publication) because of a wrong approach in my opinion.
In general, I do not want to come across as being critical on any one I was working with; the main point of this description on my first research experience is on what I learned that helped me later to be much more successful in my later research projects with other mentors.
My question is then what's the best way to write about this? I am thinking of just describing what I had done and learned for this experience, and my achievements later since this experience and what I would've done differently for this project, but at the same time I am concerned about the negative implications of such description if any. For instance, major things I learned include better idea about my research interest, my research approach, and the kind of research advisors I would like to have. However, I am not sure if this makes me sound like a very picky person who cannot collaborate with all types of people. :-/
In addition, some potential professors I would like to work with in grad school know my mentor for this research experience. I am not sure how I should take this into account. I certainly am not getting a letter of rec from him. For letters of rec, I will get two good ones from the most recent research projects I've done, and another one from a prof at my own school who has taught me.