Confessions of a researchaholic

January 15, 2018


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:29 pm

I heard this teaching about life-long learning from Confucius when I was a little kid, but it took time to appreciate what it really means. Instead of assuming we will continue to master what (we think) we already know, constant reviewing what is already there in our heads and help learning what is new in the future.

January 3, 2018

Transformation (not sure good or bad)

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:19 am

What I told students prior to a major deadline:

10 years ago: you should work hard as there is little time left.

1 month ago: go for the Kobe Bryant jersey retirement if that is important for you (later – BTW I am glad that Kevin Durant made that game winning shot).

January 1, 2018


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:39 pm
Tags: ,

This has been a widely discussed topic, but when it comes to academic publishing, focus on quality over quantity.

Take my PhD adviser as an example. At this moment, he has “only” 27 journal papers and 40 conference papers according to dblp, but nearly 40000 citations, including 10+ papers with 1000+ citations, according to Google scholar.
In comparison, there are people around his seniority and in our fields (for calibration) with roughly 10-times publications but only one-tenth of citations.
(Citation is one of the mostly commonly used measure for quality/impact, but others are possible, such as products.)

He once told me that the best timing to publish papers is when people beg us to do so (using Brain Curless’ first SIGGRAPH paper as an example). That is probably too extreme, but publishing low quality papers not only wastes our time (it is better to go out and play) but also dilutes our reputation.

December 31, 2017


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:23 pm

One of the best things I like about taking Uber/Lyft is to meet different people who are otherwise completely outside my ordinary social circles.
Some examples include a Mongolian lady who told me about the Mongolian birthmark, a reggae musician, an Iranian retiree, and an avid Trump supporter.

Today I met an Afghan who worked with the US military in Afghanistan as a translator and IT staff, and recently migrated to the US. The military helped him settled down with green card and other stuff like driver license. But since his family is around (including a new born daughter), instead of the military he is looking for civilian IT jobs, but without any luck so far due to lack of proper degrees.
(If I were to hire programmers or engineers I want to see what they can do instead of just certificates.)
I recommended him some CIA jobs (sent to me a while back for unknown reasons) such as security, information, engineering, and language.

December 17, 2017

Q and A

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:19 pm
Tags: ,

Sometimes the answers are hard to find because we ask the wrong questions.

November 26, 2017


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:07 am

A neighbor wants to remove a palm tree because it blocks the view and does not belong to northern California.

A palm tree which its neighbors want to remove as "it does not belong in northern California".

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

The tree has been there since the beginning of human settlement, and has grown very well.

Who can decide whether others belong?

I say whoever adapts, belongs.

November 24, 2017


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:20 am

I would like to thank those who ever stabbed me in the back, because you have made me a better person.
I will live the rest of my days preparing that someday, somehow, someone will stab me again.

November 19, 2017

EE bonds versus I bonds

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:36 pm

The individual savings bonds (I and EE) offered by the US treasury can be a good (conservative) subset of an investment portfolio, but some basic calculation can help decide whether and how to invest.

The current (fixed) rate of the EE-bonds is 0.1 percent, which, if compounds for 20 years, will increase the original face value by only 2 percent!
The treasury will guarantee to double the face value at the 20 year anniversary. This translates to about 3.53 percent increase per annum, which is not too bad given the current low rate environment. But we have to wait for 20 years and trust the treasury not to mess with the rates or the policies. A lot of things can happen in just 3 years, not to mention 20 (e.g. inflation).

I-bonds offer higher rates (around 2.5 percent recently) which are adjusted for inflation (unlike the EE bond rates which remain fixed). Their values are not guaranteed to at least double after 20 years, but they have a much lower opportunity cost than EE bonds without betting on interest rates or treasury policies.

November 10, 2017

Investigate before implement

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:18 am

I spent a few days hacking some stuff only to find out a better solution which took me only 5 minutes.

I was too focused in finishing the task, so I followed the first idea that came to my mind without spending enough time investigating different options.

November 2, 2017


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:43 am

When it comes to chocolate, I prefer something as pure and dark as possible.
My sources depend on the geographic availability, usually large baking chocolate blocks (e.g. Callebaut) while in the US, and Latio while in Hong Kong.
When I need to tune down the degree of sweetness, I also mix up with 100 percent cocoa, e.g. Ghirardelli baking bar.

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