The ISMIR 2017 paper and deadlines

Results: Accept!!!

which means Asia for me in October and maybe November!

Paper title: A comparison and fusion of musical pattern discovery
algorithms (Paper #120) -> Finding the consensus among musical pattern discovery algorithms (after first revision) -> ???

It was a bumpy road towards submission: realising the overall results are not good enough and you have to write an almost completely new paper with new dataset, new algorithms and new results in less than two weeks… It was an intensive working schedule towards the deadline. But I didn’t hate it. I should have know better though…

The happiness of getting accepted is now mixed with the not-so-fun process of revision. This step is mostly small things, but still important: make the figures and text clearer, make the contribution and purpose of the paper more obvious, etc. One pain is to re-generate the figures which need to be improved. Because of all the deadline hassle, I didn’t really comment my code well. To get back to my own thinking  2-3 months ago was amazingly hard!

1 (1)

Finally, I think I’m starting to like writing and reading papers more.  It’s a old way of communication but one can convey and grasp all the info if they really try..

Festivals and Spring Utrecht

June is the month of festivals in the Netherlands it seems!

Although it’s been quite a while, here are some pics from Red Light Jazz festival and Japan market:

There are so many more and each one of them has something unique 😀

Another event recommended by a friend is the Spring Utrecht. It happened even earlier. I was lucky enough to be in one of the rehearsals for one of the shows. It was very interestingly about sound and movement: using your body and movement to create different sound effects in an empty space. I definitely felt the pro-ness from the leader. But I didn’t have the time to more rehearsals and to the shows, unfortunately…

I just discovered that they are actually doing more of it:

Spring in Autumn

Maybe worth a look!

Pattern Recognition Course in Delft

Almost a month ago, I went to this ASCI course to fulfil my “study plan”. It wasn’t very pleasant to get up everyday at 6:30am and take the train to Rotterdam and then bus to Delft, but it was better with my office mates 😛

The course was a good overview of the machine learning and pattern recognition materials I learnt before. Some of them I only learnt on my own and had some loopholes, so it was good to have them solid in this course.  There are new theorems, new concepts and new applications, too, like the impossible theorem for clustering. I now know why some people hate clustering…

One unfortunately thing is that the main package used in the course is in Matlab. I admit it can still be sometimes useful though. I also took the opportunity and learnt Weka. Can be handy, too. The slides and exercises of the course can be found here:

The campus of TUDelft was quite nice. A little resemblance to Utrecht but seems to be bigger. Had a lunch outside Aula on the grass!

TAR, Teaching as research, and education

This draft has been staying here for very long. Although the project is not entirely finished (don’t know if it’s ever going to be entirely finished), I think I’ll just say what I remembered from this experience anyway.

In 2016, I participated in the Teaching as research programme with the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, University of Rochester. It’s been a nice experience. But due to my early departure, I couldn’t get all the fellowships….But that’s ok.

What’s more important is what I remember from tit:

  1. Getting the IRB protocol approved (to get permission to conduct an experiment with human subjects)
  2. Participating in workshops for teaching and diversity, curriculum design, new methods of teaching, etc.
  3. Actually participating the class and distributing questionnaires

The theme of our project was: whether shorts breaks/pauses are going to improve students’ experience in class

We distributed a short questionnaire (5 questions) in every class. The questions are about their interest level in class, their focus, their enjoyment, and whether they feel good to tackle the homework.

The class was twice every week. So we introduced the short breaks (usualy a comic) in of them and didn’t do any break in another. And the statistics of the questionnaries are shown as below:


The box on the left of each subplot is the one without breaks, and on the right is the one with breaks. We do see the difference is not great. But the medians are a little bit higher. Plus that we had different number of subjects every class, it’s actually very hard to tell…

But it was a good thing that some students left the comment that they liked the comics! (We intentionally didn’t tell the students anything about that this is an experiment)

I also trie to plot some individual plots on the first three lectures. Lecture 2 had the comic while lec 1 and lec 3 didn’t. It’s interesting to see that in lecture 2, there are more people on scale 4 & 5. enjoy

I also find hard for anyone to draw any definite conclusion in an experiment like this though. Also because I was taking the class while doing this experiment, it complicates things a little bit more.

Anyway, it was fun to talk with people about education. In the future, I think there will be more teaching duties for me one day. Hopefully there could be something fun with it!


NSF I-Corps, bussiness and industry

I applied to the NSF I-Corps programme in Spring 2016, and now thanks to the 3k funding from the programme, I’m writing this post in Hawaii!


The I-Corps programme includes a series of meetings and lectures. Each team was also assigned a mentor (Thank you for your time, Ben Gibson) to consult on different issues. We had three skype sessions, one more to go for the finally presentation next week.

Speaking of the final presentation, here’s the requirement:


As we can see, lots of comparison between what we started with and what we’re ending on. And basically, finishing the requirements is not hard at all.

Two keywords on what was taught: Business model canvas + customer interview

My business model canvas is probably too unprofessional to put up on the great internet. But I did enjoy making them.

And I realised I did like the polishing of the slides over 3 months, taking in what we have talked/interviewed with “potential customers”. It was intimidating to talk with people at first, especially when I didn’t even have a demo. But it got together as I was able to better articulate the concept of the “product”.

Now I have a very drafty demo (see here), but still far from a complete “product”. I’d be interested in any collaboration. Just shoot me an email 🙂

This whole process also made me realised how disconnected the research world is with actual real life applications, even in engineering. When I was studying in math and physics, it seemed natural to me that research should have nothing  (or nothing much directly) to do with daily life. But since I got into the music modelling research, the potential applications become more and more obvious. I guess the hurdle is how to put the cool ideas to useful applications that actually help someone.

I wish I can do research in the future that’s both cool conceptually and enjoyable by some others (the catch here is that the two doesn’t imply each other! Subjective and objective differences are there!).

Another minor good thing the programme brought to me is about language learning (drafting a language learning post, hopefully coming out soon). My first good and impressive encounter with a business man was in Montreal this summer, at the north america ployglot symposium. He is a ployglot of 16+ languages. And from his story, it seemed being a business man was contributing to his language abilities. I wish I can have that some day!

Three PhD Applications


If someone were to tell me three years ago that I’m going to go through two more PhD applications, I think I would have freaked out. But now, I’m feeling I totally needed it and it’s good for me.

My first application was in 2013. I got offers in maths and physics, but chose to attend a double master programme in complex system science.

My second application was in 2015. I got offers in Germany and the US, both relevant to audio, and chose the US one.

My third application was just a few months ago. I have decided to accept the offer from Utrecht University and move there next February. The programme is computational music structure analysis and functional programming. Really looking forward to it!

Since it was some time ago, I don’t recall every detail in my first application. But for sure, I felt I learnt a lot from the process. A new world was opening in front of me. After the 1.5 year in Europe, the perspectives changed again while I was applying for the second time. More focus and knowing directions. But there were more at risk, and I didn’t handle it perfectly. For the third time, I was more cautious and bold at the same time. And the results made me quite happy!

My problem is having too many things and wanting too many things. It sometimes makes me every productive but sometimes overwhelms me. Always trying to find a balance in this!

WIMIR programme

The post has been published here:

Just thought it’s not a bad idea to start a blog with something I wrote recently:

Thanks to Anja Volk who invited me to write about my experience on the WIMIR mentorship programme. I’m Iris Yuping Ren, a PhD student at the University of Rochester. I play the violin for fun and I studied mathematics and complex system science for my Bachelor and Masters. I’m now working in the Audio Information Research (AIR) lab in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) department. You can find out more about me here.

I still remember that, when I was signing up for this programme, I was 80% excited and curious about:

  • What is a mentorship programme? (since I’ve never been in one)
  • What kind of person will be my mentor?
  • How will the programme help me?
  • etc.

but also 20% uncertain about whether I should be involved

  • Will there be extra workload for me?
  • What if the conversations go wrong?
  • etc.

Taking a weighted average of the pros and cons, I decided to join anyway! And now I’m glad that I did that.

After filling in the sign-up sheet for the programme, I got an email about a few weeks later. I was assigned a mentor: Oriol Nieto, Scientist at Pandora. I was filled with joy: I like Pandora very much! I wanted to know more about the company, more about what research they do that made this guy choose the company and be choosen by them. Plus, the Committee was very considerate in the introduction email, providing a set of questions for us to talk about. I felt silly that I worried about the nothing-to-talk-about-first-time-Skyping embarrassment.

Oriol and I were then in contact, and had our first Skype a few days later. I was amazed by how the conversation was just flowing between us: from basic introduction to academical questions to considerations for the future. An hour of Skyping felt short! And that doesn’t happen much.

Till now, Oriol and I have had 4 very nice sessions over Skype. Sometimes there are glitches from the internet connections (that’s about all I can complain about), but every time I had such a great time chatting and learning with him. I could write the details of each Skype session, but I guess it won’t offer much since they differ a lot from other mentors and mentees. But I think a more common thing is that I feel lots of support from a knowledgeable and experienced someone who works in the same field and cares about more things than just their work. I can’t speak for everybody, but it was great for me to experience that!