Confessions of a researchaholic

March 9, 2021

Constructive versus positive feedback

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:28 am
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Positive opinions are emotionally pleasant.
Constructive opinions may not feel positive, but can propel future improvement.

Which you prefer?

February 28, 2021

Straight strokes

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:55 pm
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For some mental or physical reasons, I lack control for hand strokes.
As a little kid, I was told by the school teachers that my handwriting was so bad that it will dim my future.
But that shortly became a moot point right before I started programming on computers.

A few decades later, when I started to pick up drawing, one of the first instruction books advocates practicing straight strokes before anything else, which paused my progress for years as I never have the patience for rote practice.
I later switched to another book that emphasizes natural contours, which jump-started my drawing progress.

I still cannot control hand-strokes at this moment of writing, but that doesn’t seem to matter, and I haven’t even turned on automatic stroke smoothing common in drawing applications.

Advices can help, but only combined with our own unique situations.

October 26, 2020

Research goal post

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:09 am
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In my personal experience, there are two ways to guide a research project: solving a specific problem with whatever solutions that work the best (based on a variety of criteria such as quality, speed, cost, etc.), and devising a novel idea that can span different problems, domains, and applications.

The problem-oriented approach happens more in engineering (which aims to solve practical problems) while the idea-oriented approach happens more in science (especially more theoretical fields like math which aim to formulate fundamental ideas behind a plethora of phenomena).
Solving a specific problem provides a clear goal and reduces the tendency to derail, while aiming for ideas is more likely to work after one has already worked on related problems so as to condense the experiences into the core forms.

October 12, 2020

Vertical versus horizontal colleague

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:14 pm
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During the last 1-1 with a direct report who will transfer to another team, I found I prefer talking to him as a friend than as a manager.
I wonder if this reflects my style of influencing.

August 8, 2020

Sharing paper source with publisher

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:00 am
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Some publishers like ACM might ask for the source files to compile the camera ready papers. My understanding is that they need the source to tune the paper format, instead of publishing the source. Thus, it should be OK to share the source directly with the publisher.
If you have concerns about internal annotations such as author discussions not meant for the final paper, just clean up the source via arXiv Latex cleaner or something similar.

August 5, 2020

Popularity contest

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:23 am
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A group of interns posted their projects on an internal expo and solicited popular votes with ferocity last seen in the 2016 Republican party presidential primaries.

Meanwhile, one intern submitted a paper to a top venue even before the start of the internship, and is now spending time revising the conditionally accepted paper, filing a patent, and collaborating with a product team, instead of campaigning for popularity among other interns.

Our time is very limited. As a research mentor, it is my responsibility to guide you towards what is important and steer you away from what is less so.

July 17, 2020

How to choose faculty jobs for research universities

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:55 pm

The first rule, which you will also hear from others, is to choose a place that can attract top graduate students whom you can work with, because that is the main attraction for being a professor in a research university.

After that, consider other factors, like funding and geography (and thus why I went to HKU as a professor).

June 10, 2020

How to pick up drawing

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:34 am
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I skipped most of my art classes in school because I considered it a soft skill less useful than math and science.
Decades later I realized that art can be a good complement to my research and help me relax and create.
Fortunately, unlike languages, I have found drawing quite learnable as an adult, if one is willing to spend enough time practice and experiment.

For beginners, I recommend Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards as a starting guide book.
Practice the exercises as much as you can, and treat the cognitive aspect (e.g., left versus right brain) more from the art than the science side.

I am still learning, and will update this post along the way.
You can see my progress under my blog (which links to Instagram), Pinterest (which links to Behance), and Facebook.

June 5, 2020

Sharing materials under review for job applications

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:03 am

Question from someone about to graduate with a PhD:
Do you think I can reach out with our paper draft and videos to profs for postdocs? It’s still under review, but I kinda need to send the paper to make my case, and can’t wait any longer.

This is always a yes and no question and we have to make our own judgement. On one hand, we don’t want to let potential reviewers and recruiters feel that we are compromising review anonymity, which can hurt our paper submissions and job applications. On the other hand, we do want to present ourselves in the best possible way.

I never have this problem personally, as during my job hunts so far I have shared only public domain information.
However, if I have to add confidential materials (e.g., under peer reviews or patent applications), I will share vague information, such as an alternative paper titles with high level descriptions and a disclaimer that the work is under evaluation, and let the recruiters decide whether they want to ask for more.

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