MGS 2018

A month ago, I was at MGS 2018: http://www.cs.nott.ac.uk/~psznhn/MGS2018/

What a nice gathering and learning opportunity!

I followed the lambda calculus, category theory and machine learning till the end. The materials were all top-notch.

Most importantly, got to talk about the learning process with fellow students, made new friends, worked on new things. Connecting the dots.

Some unfortunate episodes include getting a cold, spilling water on my laptop (but it caused no damage!), etc.

If there’s another opportunity, I would totally go again: for learning other modules, and the whole experience!

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The computerphil binge

I have been following this wonderful channel for a while now:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Computerphile

But I never really got the time to watch the old videos, and occasionally I miss a episode or two…

It was great binging it over Christmas: got to review the basics, know the history, laugh at a joke or two. Plus expend it with more search, discover more channels and articles and learn even more from them!

For sanity’s sake, it’s probably good to think about why do I want to know about this at some point…

 

Try out open frameworks

I tried the the library on both windows and ubuntu. My impression is it’s easier to install with VS on window. The first errors to run the library is 99% likely to be some wrong about the setting of the project directory. But it’s easy to fix with the information provided here: http://openframeworks.cc/setup/vs/

Installing on Linux is mostly interaction with the shell. Learnt a lot through the process. Some information that is not provided here http://openframeworks.cc/setup/linux-install/ includes:

  1. chmod a+x **.sh (to make the script executable)
  2. dos2unix (in case there are errors related to different format on windows and linux)
  3. projectGenerator -o”your openframework path” new (execute this inside the example folder will make things work immediately)

During the process, also tried with different tools and environment: code blocks (a bit buggy), eclipse, gcc, etc. Always nice to learn more on the way!

Screenshot from 2017-12-10 17-16-05

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Learning Dutch

First summer in the Netherlands, I signed up to a 4 weeks dutch language course at babel.nl in Utrecht.

The schedule was intensive. We had 3 hour lectures and 2 hours self-study per day, 5 days per week. I got a certificate says that I’m at level A2 but I’m not very confident about it..

But the course definitely helped me with learning the language. I took the course 5 months after I got to the Nethelands. I already tried a few ways to learn the language during these 5 months (or even a little bit before), but this intensive experience brought me something different.

First of all, it forced me to give more time to language learning. I’m doing a PhD (along with a bunch of other stuff,) so sometimes it’s hard to convince myself to allocate time for learning languages “properly” (it’s actually not that hard when I use it as an excuse to watch Netflix in different languages).

Second, about this “properly”. In the course, I had a text book, I downloaded podcasts and listening materials, I used apps, I did the exercises, the reading, the in-class conversation, used more dutch in whats-app with friends, etc.. There was a variety of combinations of learning the theory and applying it to daily life. And the (theory <-> application) pair is just like a self-boosting never-ending machine. You feel better and better about both when there’s a balance.

Third, it helped me notice my weakness in other languages. It’s been a long time since I felt a great divide in communication. I struggled so greatly to try to get my points accross in the classes that it helps me to think about what I was doing with other languages and further reflect whether I’m doing it right with other languages. I’ve always been afraid of getting blunt in my senses for languages and stagnate. Now I think the solution is: learning (or polishing) another language!

Speaking of other languages, I was also puzzled at one point, deciding which one is more important in language learning in general: input or output. (The answer is always: it depends.. BUT) Now I think, at least for me, I need more input at first, and make a lot of efforts to output later. (This might even apply to programming languages? :P)

I always knew that doing something intensively is good for life and health. But the hard part is that it also means lots of sacrifices on other stuff you’re doing. There’s always a trade-off. So probably it’s about making the decision of whether you want this to stay with you for the rest of your life. I think I want it and will be doing more courses in the future!

Some photos of babel (they have a nice “campus”) and from my process of learning dutch…

Coursera and the recent deeplearning.ai 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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