Sunday, July 01, 2007

Study Tour Sharing - What do I get?

Study Tour UK 2007, I treat it as a 4 credit hours course which last for at least half a year. Why do I join it and what do I get from it? It's pretty simple to answer the former question. There is something that attracts me so that I join the tour to get it. So, the remaining question is - What do I get from it?

I get duties, I get works; I get experience, I get feeling; I get knowledge, I get exploration. By the way, these are not the most attractive thing to me. So, what is the one? This year, Time Magazine selects Chris Anderson as one of the hundred people who shape our world. He is selected because he makes a Big Idea - the Long Tail. Am I going to get the "Long Tail" in the study tour? Not at all, but something similar. The most attractive thing to me is the idea behind the researches being done by those Computer Scientists. Thus, I join the tour. I want to learn from those ideas.

Indeed, these ideas are the ways of thinking in order to tackle down different challenges. They are not the ideas similar to the "Long Tail", but they are valuable to me as a Computer Science undergraduate. Then, the next question is - What are they?

Let me give some example.

The first idea I learnt from Professor Bob Fisher. If I am going to do an analysis on a pool of data sets which share some similarities, how can I catch the data set with dissimilarity in a fast and efficient way? There are two approaches actually, either observes the changes of data in different sets or finds out how difference between sets of data. The former one is simple but inefficient. It takes account with all data in every set to figure out the difference. The later one was the nugget given by Prof. Fisher. It takes account with the similarity of sets and figure out how much difference between sets. This is a complicated one, but it is efficient.

Another idea I learnt from Professor Sethu Vijayakumar. There are two ways of teaching. Teaches the system to perform a specific task; and teaches the system to learn to perform specific task. The former one is to program the system while the later one is to program the system to learn. Prof. Vijayakumar showed me the capability of teaching a system to learn. This elegant way of teaching is complicated and challenging, but it is the best solution to teach. If I don't want to teach every time, I must teach how to learn.

All in all, what is the philosophy behind these ideas? What is the impression to me?

These ideas are new to me in terms of Computer Science, but not new in other areas. So, why bother to mention? The point is, how can I bring the ideas across different fields. Or, let's put it in this way, how can I links up different things together in order to generate a new combination? One of the methods to generate innovation is - break the boundary and bring across the idea. This is the Big Idea I get from the tour.

I like thinking and I enjoy thinking, although I am not able to links up different things all the time. Thanks to the study tour and the hosts, I know how to bring across things now. It's quite simple. When facing challenge, step backwards and observe the situation. Figure out all the possibilities discreetly and multi-dimensionally. Then, form the solution by joining back the appropriate ones.

Here is a final note as a reminder. When I was leaving London, I was attracted by an advertisement of in the Heathrow airport. "You cannot view from different angle. Because you are not thinking in that angle." Ads by HSBC.

FSE Project is OVER...

This is the end of my first dark month - June and the FSE project is over.

What we did for the project??? around 50MBytes of stuff ...

Here is a brief summary of what the project means to us.

From the point of view of student, this was a great opportunity for us to master a self-governed software development. We setup-ed our road-map, we designed the architecture, we researched for technique, we experimented the tools, and we criticized our artifacts. This is totally different from doing coursework in which this project does not have any guideline given by others.

From the point of view of software developer, this was a disaster for us to do the work with 18 credit hours in each semester. In order to make the development on schedule, we needed to squeeze our time by killing less time, serving less time and buying more time. The project gives us a preview of what FYP is going to be.

From the point of view of project manger, this was a miserable failure for us to do open source development in a tight schedule. We fail to make a workable product, but we do enjoy the process. It is because the process let us experience the pressure from the authority expectation.

At last, from the point of view of open source community member, this was a good starting point in joining the community. We started living in the community when we stepped our first step!
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