Confessions of a researchaholic

November 20, 2015

How to have a bad research career by David Patterson

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:24 pm

The filename suggested the seventh version, but I still learned new things from it just like the previous ones.

David Patterson did warn about his system bias, though.
In particular, I have different experiences with “big teams” and “technology transfer”.

The number of collaborators should be naturally proportional to the scale of the projects, which in turn depends on the fields.
System architecture naturally involves various experts from PL/compiler, OS, architecture, VLSI, and networks, but in my fields (graphics, vision, and HCI) the most influential papers are usually authored by one or two people, and seldom more than four.

It is difficult for companies to adopt new system architecture, but much easier for them to “steal” algorithm ideas. It cannot hurt to protect your IP before going out selling your ideas; you can quickly file provisional patent applications at low cost without involving any lawyers.

November 19, 2015

Research seminars

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:51 am

To my bright students:

I notice that you do not seem to come to seminars often, if at all.

If you are around, I highly recommend you attend these seminars, at least those by renowned researchers.

You will have fun, learn a lot, and most importantly, have a chance to interact with and talk to different people.

I know you have a lot of works to do, but these can wait, unlike the seminars and the speakers.

October 26, 2015

Autocomplete hand-drawn animations

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:00 pm
Tags: ,

[This post is for answering press inquiries about our SIGGRAPH Asia 2015 paper titled “autocomplete hand-drawn animations”.]

On August 2014, Koji Yatani (at the University of Tokyo) asked me (on Facebook!) to recommend students for a MSR Asia internship under Takaaki Shiratori with topics in animation and sketch UI. I recommended my HKU PhD student Jun Xing, who just got a paper in SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 titled “autocomplete painting repetitions”.
(Both Koji and I were with MSR. That is how we got to know each other even though we have no overlap.)

Our initial goal was to help users create animated emoji in instant messaging. I wanted to make sure the project is significant enough (e.g. for SIGGRAPH) while leveraging our collective expertise as much as possible. Thus, I proposed to extend the aforementioned SIGGRAPH Asia 2014 paper, which can autocomplete only single-frame drawings, for multi-frame animations. The main goal for both projects is to help ordinary users draw as easily and effectively as possible.
(My dad is an artist, but I have yet to learn how to draw. So as any decent computer scientist would do, I ask algorithms for help.)

Jun designed most of the user interface and algorithms, and implemented the entire system. He is definitely one of the best students I have worked with.

We plan to ship prototypes of the system to gather user opinions for further research and improvements, starting with mobile apps followed by desktop versions.

Contrary to what some press reported, this is NOT a Microsoft technology or product (at least not at this moment of writing). None of the authors were with Microsoft during the key stages of the project development. In particular, the core ideas were conceived before the start of the internship, and Jun had to come back to HKU to finish the project after Takaaki left Microsoft about 1 month before the paper deadline.

October 17, 2015

How to quit jobs

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:50 pm

[Note: most of my blog posts are answers to common questions, including this one. They do not reflect my personal situations.]

Do not use resignation as leverage for negotiation. If you have any grievance for you job, talk to your managers first. You might be surprised how much you can achieve by simply talking straight.

Quit only if you really mean it, and carry it through. Do not change your mind if people entice you to stay. If you do, they may think you are soft, and you may suffer as a consequence in the long run.

Always attribute your resignation to personal reasons. Do not say anything remotely negative about your employer, managers, colleagues, or underlings. (The only exception is when someone you know gets a job offer from one of your former employers and needs your opinion.) If they insist on getting your honest feedback for future improvements, ask them to contact you after a cool down period. I recommend at least 6 months, and one year if you go to a competitor.

Instead, always try to say something positive about your former employers. If you do this before you quit, you might actually change your mind.
The grass always seems greener on the other side.

Do not come back to the same employer within the next 3 to 5 years. If you do, they might think you are weak, and you might suffer as a consequence.

October 8, 2015

Back to the future

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:23 am

For those of you who think there is (or will be) nothing new under the sun in your fields:

At some point during the 19th century people thought Newtonian physics is basically done and only incremental works remain.

Then came stuff like relativity, quantum mechanics, etc.

October 6, 2015


Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 6:57 pm

To know if you are a real angel
Visit hell
And see if you can still fly

Whether and how to contact professors for school applications

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:07 am

Professors, at least those at top schools, tend to receive many applications, probably hundreds if not thousands every year.

The best way to get their attention is to find people with good reputation and existing relationships as your references.

The best way to get them ignore you is to send out blanket spam-like inquiries to everyone.

Look at the professors’ websites, which may already spell out whether and how to contact them, and other useful information like their research and style.
It is to your benefit to read these, as you want to find someone with matching style and interests, and the professors want to know why they should pick you.

Disclaimer: this is based on my (limited) experiences as a prof so far, not how I contacted my PhD adviser almost 20 years ago.

October 2, 2015


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:57 pm

Khan’s fire
Such powerful weapon
So close to my heart

September 30, 2015

Thank you for pissing me off

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:23 pm

That is what brings the best out of me.

September 28, 2015


Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 6:36 pm

Slow turn
Eaten by the rats

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