Confessions of a researchaholic

September 27, 2018

How filter recruiters

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:01 am
Tags: ,

It is usually much more effective to talk directly with the hiring managers for job opportunities. Recruiters, either internally to the companies or externally in agencies, are usually less effective, even though I have encountered a few very good ones and enjoyed the processes.

If you are receiving more recruiter contacts than your bandwidth can handle, one strategy is as follows. Tell the recruiter that you are very happy with your current job (true for me, but pretend to be so even if you are not) and are not thinking about switching now. However, you are interested to know more about the opportunity, and might be able to recommend other suitable candidates.

A run-of-the-mill recruiter, looking for a quick score, will usually pass by after reading this message.
A smart recruiter, on the other hand, knows the importance of building relationships and expanding networks, and top candidates usually have good jobs; they will be more likely to get back to you.

September 16, 2018

MSR Asia single-author challenge

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:32 pm
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It has been 10 years since I posted up the single-author SIGGRAPH paper challenge to MSR Asia, and nobody has managed to claim the prize as far as I know.

Looking back at my writing, I was wondering who this blunt prick is.
🙂
If I could, I would tell my past self to be more graceful without compromising the strength.
Otherwise, I still stick with, and have faithfully followed by own edicts, after switching into these other roles.

August 26, 2018

Git research source

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:53 pm
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Below is a summary of my suggestions of using git to manage research source, based on numerous discussions I have had with my collaborators across multiple projects at multiple institutions.

Always revision control your code. There are multiple options, but at this moment of writing, git beats alternatives such as svn and perforce.

Use github for public repos and bitbucket for private repos.

Start with existing code if feasible. If the code is already under git, use submodule as a component or fork/branch as an extension. Otherwise, convert the code into git, and preserve revision history whenever possible (e.g. github/bitbucket can help you convert svn repos into git repos).

Use multiple branches for different versions of the code, such as stable branch for release or a personal branch for experiments.
Use multiple remotes across organizations and time-frames.
For example, during your internship with a company, use an internal corporate github repo, and sync it with an external bitbucket (private) repo at the end of your internship so that you can continue the project at your school. When you are ready to publish your code, mirror it to a public github repo.
Keep multiple remotes under the same repo for easy management.

For paper drafts, you can create an overleaf git branch for more WYSIWYG-style editing while retaining all the benefits of branching and revision control.

Chongyang Ma (@ Snap Research) has recommendations for industry research code practice.

June 27, 2018

Project pivot versus switch

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:03 pm
Tags: ,

When we get stuck in a project, the issues could lay on the project or us.
For the former, switching to a different project might help.
For the latter, we should fix our own issues as otherwise no project will work out.

It is not always clear where the issues are.
But if someone keeps on switching projects, it could be a sign of individual instead of project issues.

Even if a project does not work out, it is usually better to pivot by continuous transforming the ideas during progress, instead of discontinuous switch to a separate project without coherence.

Download (SVG, 8KB)

June 8, 2018

Satoshi-Nakamotoism

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:54 am
Tags: , ,

Aside from rare exceptions like Steve Jobs or Albert Einstein, people usually do not care who is behind an invention or discovery.
(As a quick experiment, can you name the Nobel Prize winners in the most recent year, especially if you are not working in the related fields?)

Thus, I would prioritize our outcomes over our egos for publicity.

May 28, 2018

How to screen PhD/intern applicants

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:00 pm
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April 15, 2018

More about choosing graduate programs

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:19 pm
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Recently several people asked me about choosing graduate programs. I answered about this before, but some specific cases might still help.

Q: Choose a program that offers financial support over one that does not.

This is certainly a sensible decision, especially if you are cash strapped, even though that is not what I did (see below).

Q: Choose a MS program that is more likely to lead to the PhD program of the same school/department.

In general yes, if you can find a good adviser whom you can convince to take you as a PhD student by doing good research with him or her.

Q: Choose between a school/adviser good at a direction or a methodology

These are different. For example, you might be interested in computer graphics (direction) and want to apply machine learning (methodology) in some way. Should you choose a professor in computer graphics who knows a bit (but not much) about machine learning, or a machine learning expert who is not really doing computer graphics?

Always pick the one who is better at identifying the problems (directions) than the one who is better at suggesting solutions (methods). Solving a wrong problem (unimportant, too easy, too difficult, too crowded, etc.) can completely derail your research career. In contrast, you can find domain experts to collaborate after identifying a good direction.

[I will add more when I receive more questions.]

When I made my decision more than 20 years ago, it was pretty easy: I wanted to go to a top school in the Bay Area, so I basically had only two choices. And I heard from one around Christmas but not another one until the next April or May. What was more difficult is that I only got scholarships from schools in the east coast, and my family preferred me to go there.

February 18, 2018

The most useful faculty advice I have ever received

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:53 pm
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From Peter Shirley if I remember correctly:

Do not perform too well on tasks that I do not enjoy so that they would not get assigned to me in the future.
🙂

January 1, 2018

Bean-counting

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.

November 1, 2017

Simplification

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:51 am
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“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Einstein

When facing a seemly daunting, difficult, or complex problem, a good strategy is to simplify (in the sense of mesh simplification) the scenario as much as possible, during which the thought process can bring great clarify and insight.

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