Confessions of a researchaholic

July 27, 2017


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:06 am
Tags: ,

Looking at the paper titles for HPG 2017, I wonder if it can be renamed to HPRT (similar to how CVPR can be renamed to CVML).

When we have real-time ray tracing on mobile devices (the day will come), all the legacy graphics algorithms (i.e. tricks) will become obsolete.
I believe real-time RT, instead of machine learning, will be the end of traditional rendering tricks.

July 24, 2017

OKR 2017

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:09 am

For OKR 2016, I rated myself 50 percent:

  • published only 2 top papers (with 2 student first authors)
  • shipped no product
  • graduated my first HKU PhD student who landed as a postdoc in USC
  • received slightly below 80 percent rating for the machine learning class
  • sketching level remains primitive
  • finished the art of war, got stuck in the beginning of the book of change
  • began the baroque cycle, but read a whole bunch of other books that I did not plan to
  • my heart rate remained above 40 beats per minute but I picked up something else

The default period is from July 2017 to June 2018 unless stated otherwise.

Publish top papers

Publish at least 4 papers in top graphics/HCI/vision/ML venues: ToG (including SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH Asia), CHI/UIST, NIPS/ICML, CVPR/ICCV.

Build top products

Ship at least one product with at least 1 million users, preferably one that can help content creation with workflows.

Develop top talents

Help at least 4 students publish in top graphics/HCI/vision/ML venues individually.

Graduate my second HKU PhD student.

Have fun, be awesome

Practice sketching to a professional level.

Finish the book of change, to renew my (now rusty) Chinese and crack the only Chinese classics that my grandfather did not during his life time.

Finish the baroque cycle, which I lost patience in the middle of the first volume (quicksilver).

Reduce my steady heart rate to the previous level – less than 40 beats per minute, and perfect all three core forms of the art I have started learning for about 1 year.

July 23, 2017

Where are the coders?

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:06 am

I saw this article (in Chinese) pondering why it is so hard to find good programmers for software companies in Taiwan given the large number of CS graduates every year. The answer is that the hardware industry, which dominated in Taiwan, has a stronger pull than the software industry for programmers. Specifically, with higher pay and lower challenge, programmers tend to pick the easy route for the short term gain (hardware), forgoing longer term benefits such as impact and growth (software).

Hubs such as Hong Kong where finance dominates also have a stronger pull for programmers than the software industry. The job conversations I heard from the HKU CS students are mostly about different sectors of finance, such as investment banks, commercial banks, hedge funds, insurance companies, rather than finance versus other industries.

Top programmers flock to the software industry only where it dominates, such as in the Bay Area and the internet companies (e.g. BAT) of China. Their formations were due to largely unique factors (e.g. geography and government policy) and thus hard to replicate elsewhere.
Instead, computer scientists, as well as top guys in other professions, cluster where they can continue to dominate.

July 21, 2017

Khan’s grave

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:19 am

He is neither nice nor stupid.

Why would he want to put himself in a situation where he has no control and subject to humiliation from his enemies?

You cannot find something that does not exist.
What you can find are probably some decoys or (worse) booby traps.

July 19, 2017

White tea

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:56 am

Sleepless night after
Underestimating the
Power of white tea

July 18, 2017

Picking research problems

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:12 am

This is the most important stage of conducting research. I do not claim to know the answer, and my experience is limited to specific fields in CS, but (as before) I write this down to get feedbacks and to save the trouble of repeating myself.

Listen to people facing real problems instead of trusting the future work sections in research papers. If there are good (to elaborate) users or product people around you, ask what they need.

Identify concrete problems first, before thinking about other parts like idea novelty, algorithm framework, etc. (Look for hammers after nails.)
If we can find a trivial solution for an important problem, great, solve it, and quickly move on to something else.
This beats the alternative of coming up with a fancy method that does not solve anything.

The problem should fit our interest and expertise well enough, so that we have sufficient willingness and capability to address it.

If the problem is not sufficiently clear or convincing, the research project is probably a waste of time.
If the solution to the problem is not clear or convincing at the beginning, it is not only quite normal but also a potential sign that the problem is sufficiently non-trivial.

July 17, 2017

You can measure the size of a person by what makes him or her angry

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:31 am

July 16, 2017

Dream this morning about Hong Kong

Filed under: Imaginary — liyiwei @ 2:49 pm

I slept inside a standing shower room, with my body balanced by my backs and legs against the plastic walls.

Afterwards I went to a laundry shop, which charged me 10761 HKD for 4 pieces of cloth. (It usually costs me about 30 to 50 HKU for a weeks’ worth of laundry.)

It is not about you

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:29 pm

Absorption in things other than self is the secret of a happy life.

Altruism is the ultimate form of selfishness.

July 15, 2017


Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:35 am

I lived in the Redmond/Seattle area between 2008 and 2011.
This is probably the most peaceful among all the places I have been to.
Below is a quick summary of the area from my memory.

I mostly rented apartments near Redmond downtown, close to work (Microsoft campus) and within walking distance to everything I ever need (bus transit center, library, groceries, restaurants, gyms, parks, cinema, etc.)

I also stayed at the Moore hotel at Seattle downtown sometimes.
It is close to some of my most favorite places in the city such as the Pike place market and the Seattle art museum.

The public transportation is great compared to California.
The light rail connects downtown and the Seatac airport, and there is a comprehensive bus system covering the entire area.

The traffic can be even worse than the Bay area though (that is really something). Avoid crossing the 520 bridge for daily commute if possible.

I have a mixed feeling about biking.
The weather (temperature, humidity, and air quality) is suitable for long distance biking, but it is still not safe given the traffic condition.
I recommend biking as an exercise but not a means for transportation.


I like the cool weather and fresh air.
It snows in the winter though. The temperature does not bother me, but a particular slushy form of ice/snow called slush, which is wet and porous, can cause (further) transportation troubles for cars, bikes, and legs.

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