Confessions of a researchaholic

November 24, 2012

How to apply for grad school

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:16 pm
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graddecision.org has great information. Check it out.

November 21, 2012

Flesh UI

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:52 am
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I have a primary bank in Asia and a primary bank in the US.

The online banking of that US bank is very easy to use; the UI design is likely good enough for a textbook example.

In contrast, online banking for that Asia bank is extremely difficult to use (even for a computer scientist); the UI design is so bad that it can also serve as a textbook example.

I have been wondering how that Asia bank could have survived its customer complains about UI. Today, I found out the answer.

I needed to conduct a transaction that (to the extent I can figure out through that UI jungle) cannot be done online. So I went to a local branch. The (human) bank clerks were so efficient that the entire process probably took less time than doing it online by myself.

So I guess most people in Asia simply do banking with real humans. It is not only because human labors are more abundant in Asia, but also that Asians have more inherent distrusts for online banking.

Lesson learned: a bad UI needs fix only if used.

November 17, 2012

How I handle failed internal PhD students

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:14 pm
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First of all, if you follow my advices, you are not likely to fail. (See here for potential ways of failure.)

However, research is inherently unknown and thus risky. Nobody can predict the future. There is a natural attrition rate for PhD students (analogous to the natural unemployment rate for workers).

So, if for any reason you cannot complete your PhD, it is not as big a deal as you would imagine. (Plenty students in my grad school did not finish their degrees, and some of them went out to found companies, e.g. Yahoo and Google.)

For my internal “discontinuing” PhD students, here are your options:

. Find another professor in the department/school willing to take you

. Transfer from PhD to MS/MPhil

. Just walk away

In any case, I will do my best to help you transition to the next stage. But I cannot guarantee anything.

November 10, 2012

How I work with each student

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:34 am
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This figure illustrates how I collaborate with each student.

There are several main layers of a research project: idea creation, algorithm design, system implementation, and experimentation + results production. They are all wrapped up and glued together by presentation, which includes paper writing, video production, and (conference) talk.

For a beginner student, I would expect you to completely take charge of the implementation and production (including video), given the main ideas and algorithms as described in a paper draft (as part of the presentation). We could discuss anything you like, but you should be able to handle all the implementation and production details (e.g. I am not supposed to look into your code). Otherwise, you are not ready for research.

As you progress, I would expect you to be able to take charge more tasks at the higher layers. Idea creation is the most difficult and only a few can pull that off, but my experience is that a decent senior student can at least take part in algorithm design and paper writing.

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