Confessions of a researchaholic

June 3, 2013

Final year project

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:08 am

HKU has this course called final year project (FYP) for undergrad students. As the name implies, it is a two-semester projected oriented class. The offerings change every year. Each class is designed by a CS professor, and matched with potential students.

Out of pure experimentation, I offered ray tracing for FYP. Five students, divided into two teams, took the project.

It appears that I might have underestimated the workload a bit. They all crunched their tails off; one guy told me he wrote 35000 lines of code, and I did not try to ask others.
As a reference, 2000 is about the medium number of lines of code written by undergrad applicants from mainland China to our PhD program.

Fortunately, one of the ray tracing teams managed to win the champion of the grand competition among all FYP teams. Congratulations to Ng Sui Sang, Lui Ho Kuen, and Pa Tat Ki. I am very proud of you guys, despite the fact that none of you actually finished the whole thing (a fact probably unknown by the judges), I never learned how to pronounce your (Cantonese) names, and I forgot to attend the competition and ceremony. (It is not that you guys are not important to me; I also forgot to attend department meetings.)

Now, about the experimentation part: I wanted to see how well the HK kids can code, compared to other places that I have been to (e.g. SF Bay Area, Seattle, and Beijing). (I could not get the answer from the introductory programming class I taught in HKU because, to avoid student complaints, I have to water-down the programming assignments to be no more than what I could do in junior high.) The FYP results indicated that there are indeed talented young computer scientists in HK. Unfortunately for them, the local economy and job market are geared too much towards rent seeking (e.g. real estate) and moving things around (e.g. finance and business) than innovating (e.g. technology).

It remains interesting to see if technology can eventually fix this. In theory, any individual smart enough can already conquer the world with a laptop and internet connection from a bedroom. Already, I do not need a physical lab in HKU.


  1. Thanks! It’s been a fun ride, although we didn’t quite finish the whole thing, and actually I was out of town during the presentation. I sent in a screen capture video that had a camera on my keyboard for my part, which I guess must have been amusing to look at.

    I guess I should clarify a little about the 35000 lines figure: I meant 35000 line edits according to git, which came from “21k lines inserted, 14k lines deleted” from summing up commit logs.

    Comment by Kent Lui — June 3, 2013 @ 7:39 am | Reply

    • Thanks for clarifying, Kent. Even with the corrected number, you are still one order of magnitude better than a medium PhD applicant.

      I am going to use you to challenge them.

      You guys are also the main reason why I did not nuke those head hunters who dared to ask me to be “c++ programmer”. =D

      Comment by liyiwei — June 3, 2013 @ 5:56 pm | Reply

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