Confessions of a researchaholic

December 31, 2014

Frame of motivation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:55 pm
Tags: ,

As a game of self-motivation, I used to frame and hang rejection letters on the wall and remove them only after getting even.

Today while cleaning my office I found the very last one sitting in a corner. Looking at it feels like a guy bumping into his high school crush who rejected him years ago but now appears totally fat and ugly.

With amused satisfaction, I threw the letter away but kept the frame. Time to fill it with another motivation.

Frame of rejection

A photo posted by Li-Yi Wei (@liyiwei) on

December 20, 2014

Minimal quality bar to become my internal student

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:08 pm
Tags: ,

You should be able to understand and implement an existing research paper (e.g. SIGGRAPH) or software system (e.g. a renderer/simulator) as well as reproduce the corresponding results.

Otherwise, you are not ready for a research or even a development position.

As a reference point, my current HKU PhD student, Jun Xing, once managed to reproduce 3 SIGGRAPH papers in a span of about 5 days.

December 14, 2014

Flight delay

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:05 pm

Dear airlines:

Passengers would be much happier if they can enjoy the in-flight entertainment uninterrupted by your announcements about delays.

December 11, 2014

Street credit

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Coauthors revealed a secret in a recent paper that gave us all street credits.
(It is in plain sight for anyone to see, so I won’t tell.)

December 10, 2014

First computer programmer

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:56 am

On Ada Lovelace’s birthday, I would like to thank the all-girl trio – Jolly, Min, and Yanlin, for helping me teach the (100+ students) introductory programming class.

December 8, 2014

Consequences of not having significant impacts

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:43 pm
Tags: ,


November 26, 2014

Why Silicon Valley does not trust guys in suits

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:13 pm

It is a sign of conformity and misplaced priority.

November 25, 2014

How to really understand an algorithm

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:12 am
Tags: ,

Implement it.

November 23, 2014

Why I never go to class reunions

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:11 pm
Tags: ,

I want to remember all of you as innocent, beautiful, and hopeful.

November 9, 2014

Manage presentation via slides

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:36 am
Tags: ,

If I need to produce a video or give a talk for a research project, here is my current workflow.

Write down the story/script in plain text and rough drawings. Do not use any specific media at this early stage as it can prematurely limit our creativity.

Commit the script into a storyboard via slides (e.g. PowerPoint).
I then gradually flesh out the storyboard into a video and talk using the same set of slide files. This might sound unusual, so let me explain.

Start with video. When I was in grad school I learned time-line based tools (e.g. Adobe Premiere) to author and edit videos. But recently I found it more natural to use slides instead of time-lines for research videos. The main reason is that a research video usually contains short video segments glued together by narration, which involves more storyboarding than time-line manipulation.

I first produce the individual video segments using specific tools (e.g. dumping individual frames from my renderer and convert them into a video via MovieMaker), and embed them into PowerPoint slides. PowerPoint provides a rich set of tools for annotation, animation, and transition, which I find handy (and harder to do via Adobe Premiere). I automate all object animations and slide transitions, and dump the entire project into a video file.
I submit the video along with the paper, and go screw around.

PowerPoint allows flexible manual control, but it can be tedious due to lack of automation/scripting tools. Thus, it is important to properly decompose the above process into (1) automatic creation of (video) components and (2) manual insertion/combination of these components into the slides. It is a trade-off among quality, control, and manual labor.

When the time comes to prepare the talk, I can simply start with my slide file, which already contains the script, the video segments, and associated effects. I just need to turn off those automatic animations and transitions that I wish to manual control, and add additional information for a talk, usually verbal stuff such as previous works, algorithm details, and future directions.

I find this much more efficient than starting new slides from scratch.
I also find that for those projects that I were too lazy/busy to make videos, the talk slides I ended up doing are often not too far from being videos.
It is almost always a good idea to have a video to present the gist of our project in 5 minutes, more appealing and efficient than absorbing the same amount of information from reading the paper.

As an example, here is an early version of the video-slide file for my siga14 paper autocomplete painting repetitions.

Next Page »

Theme: Rubric. Get a free blog at