Coursera and the recent course: Notes on the interview with Geoffrey Hinton

In 2013 I was hyped with the coming of MOOC. Probably took more than 20 courses during a summer. But of course, MOOC had its problems and still has some problems even now. So I didn’t really take many full courses after the summer (it was also the summer when I graduated and had free time): only search for videos or materials I need on the internet.
Although I haven’t finished this recent deep learning course, I was already impressed by the quality of the course in the first module, especially the bonus interview with Geoffrey Hinton. It was an interesting mental exercise just to keep us with their conversations. Here are some notes I took (a bit messy but I was trying to following real time and it was hard to pause in-between because the topics are very interesting!):

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Bakkerswinkel @ Den Haag

This is not an Ad post!

But the combination of Earl Grey, scone, cakes, brownies and cat, they just go well together ๐Ÿ˜€

I quite like the city of Den Haag, especially on a sunny day

Really like relaxing and working in a cafe. Being stressful and mindful at the same time! Wish I will have time to do this more often…

Clojure and Overtone

My first time encounter with Clojure is through the Amsterdam Clojure Dojo (but it was in Utrecht, just under the Dom!)

It was a time that I went to lots of tech meet-ups (will be more posts), and I really liked this one. I didn’t know it’s going to be learning through solving a small problem: the maze problem hereย (love to alice in the wonderland)

It was lucky that, coincidentally, I just revised some tree search algorithms the day before. So I felt like I know the solution, I just needed to learn the syntax.

There were lots of brackets! We had an experience member in the team of three, so it was a nice learning process. The host used a time-management scheme that we could only work for 25 mins and then we had to take our hands off the keyboard for 5 mins. TBH I didn’t like it that much. Time management methods are preventing all the breakthroughs!

But anyway, we managed to solve problem one. And then every team (5 in total) presented their solutions. And the pizza was nice!

And then, second time, I was trying to get the music related clojure package Overtone to work

First I tried it in windows a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t successful after tickering with a few things, so I let it go. Today I went back to it, still no luck in Windows, but this time at least I know from the error message that it’s the problem of the operating system.

Screenshots from Windows:

(First stupid error, forgot to change the project file)


The file looks good now


But java tells you that windows is no good..


Screenshots from Ubuntu (feeling very lucky and cursed by having three operating systems):

Setting up everything from the beginning in Ubuntu (from installing lein):

Screenshot from 2017-08-30 18-52-09Screenshot from 2017-08-30 18-51-52Screenshot from 2017-08-30 18-51-37

Trust me. There was sound.

Also in the AFP summer school last week, I met someone who uses clojure for work, and learnt that clojure Dojos are everywhere, and the inventer of the language is a really cool guy (a musician)!

Fireworks @ Scheveningen

The last time I saw fireworks was in Montreal, with people from a polyglot gathering and a friend from France. It was quite an experience back then, and I absolutely had no idea I’d get to experience it again!

This time, the firework festival lasted two weekends, four evenings (again a few weeks ago, catching up catching up with time), and I went to 3/4. The stage is on the beach of Scheveningen, close to the Hague. Each evening, two countries present their fireworks: I really liked the one from Belgium and Japan. Every evening there was a huge amount of people. First time seeing all the trams and buses just packed with people. But if walk a little north, one could find a quiter place, on the sand or in a cafe. The fireworks looked huge even from afar!

I enjoyed the fireworks patterns imprinted on the dark blue sky very much. It all starts from a small little dot, raises and raises, draws a flickering trace towards the sky, and suddenly, explodes into geometry and colour patterns which lighten up the sky.

Many years ago, there was an anime about the making of fireworks in Edo. I need to watch that again. Incredible efforts must have been made by the mankind to put such “flowers” on the sky. (I never thought about this, but it just occurs to me that in Chinese, Japanese and Korean, there is the meaning of “flowers” in the word “fireworks”. Definitely not a coincidence I think. )

The sound, in comparison, is not that lovable though ๐Ÿ˜› I hated when I was little because it reminds me of the war movies… I wish some day, instead of the deafening PPPBBBDDD sound, there could be music on the sky as well


Off topic: the first evening, I went by OV fiets; I was still very bad with coaster breaks, so on the way back, with all the crazy traffic, I ran into a car. But luckily the car wasn’t moving, it was me who crashed into it. I was panicing a little because I didn’t know anything about insurance on OV fiets. But after they got off car and had a look at the collision, the kind dutch family let me go without further pursuing.. I hope I didn’t do too much damage… Practice practice…

Castle fest @ Keukenhof

Yet another overdued summer post.


Quite a lot (almost 90%?) of people dressed up, and the quality was very high! Never knew there’d be such a scenary outside comicons! Unlike comicons, the custumes are all medieval though. It’s like travel in between the past and modern time. Fansinating!

My friend from medusa also blogged about it:

The blog is in Japanese, English and Dutch, very good for language learning too haha!

It’s also very important to have good friends and good company (very lucky that I could go with some medusa people!). ย It was in between my two dutch summer courses, so it was nice to learn some dutch and just enjoy the life.

Food and drinks were nice, too. I had two muffins (blue berry yeah), an apple donut, and bought some mead (really tasty! got to love honey!).

There were interesting shops and folk music too: lots of individual crafty DIY stuff, and people are just dancing on the square and on the grass. Gezellig!


But perhaps I was enjoying too much in the summer and now I have a pile of deadlines… anyway…

Experiencing the cabal hell with Fcomp

This is an effort to try to run the FComp Haskell package described here:ย

So, with the help from an awesome colleague, the story goes like:

It complained when I did cable install -> delete all sorts of upper cap of dependencies -> can’t install instant-generics 0.6, only instant-generics 0.1 could be successfully installed -> delete instant-generics 0.1, which was not straight forward… one had to find all files on the system and unregister it from ghc-pkg -> leave the mess and try cabal sandbox and install fcomp from scratch -> found out there’s another problem about template haskell -> delete and change all sorts dependency restrictions again, even tried to go from larger to smaller number… used instant-generics 0.4 for example -> then a problem come from uuparsinglib -> then from haskore splitbase -> then from special-functors, and we found out it’s because this package hasn’t been updated for a very long time, maybe got abandoned by the author ๐Ÿ˜ฆ and the incompatibility comes from something in Control/Monad/Instances.hs

It’s been the quite a journey and we decided to let it go for now…

Something I learnt from this:

It’s good to save the terminal history as a txt file and look back on it later. Kind of like a cool journal ๐Ÿ˜€

The importance of Vim and command line is paramount. This is what I’ll be doing for a while now:


The difficult really lies in the intertwined complexity amongst the cabal files. My poor memory is just not holding up.

Why there’s no self-container (with all the proper dependencies versions) to just make everything reproducible at anytime? It might be big but shouldn’t be a problem with current storage ability?


New students are coming @ Utrecht

It was the orientation week two weeks ago (well, it’s a little “late” to talk about it now. And sorry I haven’t been updating because I had to enjoy “the summer”, so there are going to be a wave of belated posts about events happened in the summer. I’ll put them on a different publishing time I think…).

Lots of new students, lots of music and police on the street ๐Ÿ˜›

Together with the choir medusa, we were part of the “club market”, where all kinds of orangisations get their “new blood”. It was a very good day. Although a bit sleep deprived, it was nice to rehearse in the morning, set up the market, run into stage problems while improvising a little bit to the background music, and sing on an open-air stage. There were some happenings on the stage: banging noises from behind as if they didn’t finish building the stage while we are playing, which was unsettling. Perhaps this is the dutch style, or it’s just we weren’t “captivating” enough for them to stop working on the stage….

The market itself was fun, too. I didn’t go to too many stands (about 4). But it was nice to see the lively community of students: there were music, arts, dance, voluteering, shops, sports, etc. And everyone was super friendly, and as expected, very good in English. The best part is of course the free stuff and the information about what’s going on!

It’s sad that I will stop doing Kunstorkest and Medusa next semester. But I’ll definitely keep contacts with my lovely friends there ๐Ÿ˜€

The Applied Functional Programming summer school @ Utrecht


I attended a great AFP course last week:

What I learnt:

The lectures happened in parallel with my reading of the Graham Haskell book. It definitely went much faster than the speed of my reading, but it gave me more motivations and provided lots of tasters of the more advanced stuff. From my own and others’ experiences that I heard, Haskell needs patience, iterations upon iterations (will get there eventually..). I already feel I can understand more in comparison to when I took the Advanced Functional Programming course in Spring. Especially that I was more daring to read the actual code and tried to think how I would have written it myself.

I found examples in the lectures very helpful. The research way of thinking lies more in little toy examples and snippets. And also it was great to see Haskell being used in the industry on the last day. And there seems to be much more that the langauge could offer (in DS, ML, NN, etc.)

In general, I would say I only understood about 50% of the course, and there are still many questions left with the assignments and the lecture slides. But it’s still great because I got so many pointers from the course as to how I should go further with this, and I’m blessed by my great colleagues to whom I could address my questions!


Website of this year’s summer school:

Website of previous summer schools:

Chat channel: IRC, Slack

(There are pointers to nice books, videos, tools, etc.)

What else we did:ย 

We also had good catering food for a week. People socialed during coffee breaks, lunch, dinner and lab sessions. Lots of interesting “inside” small talks.

In the future

Some participants asked for answers for the assignments, which could be a double edged sword, but it would be nice to have one. Some others said that it would be nice to have more functional programming elements from other languages than Haskell. And there are always people starting at different levels, so the speed of the course was at the contre of lots of discussions. It seems people have been thinking about this for the next year. And maybe video recordings of the lectures could help, too?

This might be hard, but it would nice to have a MIR summer school at some point, too? ๐Ÿ˜€

The Harry Potter Exhibition

Ok. I’m writing this on the 29th, but I went to the place a few weeks ago, so I’m posting it on 22th ๐Ÿ˜›


It was a good re-visit to my childhood imagination land despite the pricy tickets. Good company with the friends from a women’s choir: medusa.

I watched all the films (from elementary school to high school), and even read one of the books in Chinese when I was in middle and in English when I was in high school (definitely have the whole collection downloaded somewhere on my old hard drives).

But tbh, I don’t remember many plots. There were some impressive plots from the movie: the magic to move objects around, the strange creatures; and some from the books: students’ classes and books, beautiful descriptions of the campus and different relationships. (I don’t know why but I actually started to think about this when I was reading the Haskell book: it minds me of learning and application process perhaps!)

After the exhibition, I went back and watched the new movie on MI TV, but was distracted by all the piled up works…