Yearly Paris: Japan expo, musée, music shopping, etc.

(This is one of the belated summer posts)

Another travel to Paris this year, for friends’ party, getting my electric violin back, Japan expo, etc.

The 4-days Japan expo got me started to planning on this. But in the end, I only went one day… life is full of surprise, isn’t it! I was very happy with the one day though: remembering the pass two years time, seeing crazy cosplays, observing multimedia and cultural market, adding new multi-lingual anime DVDs to my collection, etc. But I decided to just spent one day there because it’s very similar to the previous two years: well, guests changed, hot-topics changed, trends changed a little bit, but the exhibition model stayed the same… The novelty value is not as impressive as before (the tickets price, on the other hand, is still pricy). Maybe the organisers intentionally made it the same for the veterans; maybe it is because I’m getting more numb at sensing the changing details; anyhow, I went on to some other adventures in the next few days.

One new place I went to is the Rodin museum. The garden, statues, arts, buildings are all very calming and evoking. A little touristy, but it’s not hard to find a place of peace. I was sobbing over the fact that I couldn’t get free tickets anymore though. Time is flying too fast…

Also thanks to my OPS friends, I got the chance to get into a concert at radio France. It’s been a year since the last time. We switched to a better seat during intermission this time. Completely different acoustics before on the second floor and after on the ground floor. And it was quite unusual to see a double-bass concerto. The orchestra and the conductor did not bad at all! It was a very relaxing evening! (except the part that my phone went out of battery…)

Of course there has to be food in Paris. But my friend and I just went quite randomly to a Japanese Okonomiyaki place. I quite liked it! (well, I do have no good sense on food though…)

And then it’s the summer sales time in Paris! In addition to the usual clothing stores, I also feel obligated to take a look at Rue du Rome. No not really, it’s always been quite fun going there! They have a good collection of instrument stores and music book stores. And of course the book stores are my favourite!

In summary, it was a good trip meeting old friends (even did some improvisation!), meeting new friends at old friends’ party, wandering, reading, thinking, seeing, buying, etc. I think I will go back next year as well! (ISMIR will be there too!)


CSMC 2017: 2nd Conference on Computer Simulation of Musical Creativity

After being involved in last year, it’s nice to be back and contribute to the conference again.

We had the following 3-days programme:

It’s a small and cosy conference with lots of discussions (4 panels!). Audience consist of a good mix of people from the industry (Jukedeck, Melodrive, Sibelius!), from music/musicology and from computer science. People gave constructive and insightful suggestions to each other’s research/system. Lots of presentations/demonstrations are much easier to understand onsite than from the paper. It worths the travel (specially when combined with another conference nearby) to also get to talk to conference friends/colleagues. I enjoyed it very much!



I was chairing a paper session on the first day and moderating a panel on the last day. Initially I was organising two panel sessions: one about live coding and another one on music pattern. Unfortunately the first one didn’t work out. But I was lucky to be able to meet the live coders anyway at FARM (, a post coming soon) the week before CSMC.

The second panels was the one I was very looking forward to since music patterns is precisely in my PhD topic. And I was excited because we had lots of prestigious panellists: with Srikanth Cherla, Elaine Chew, Roger Dean, Steven Jan, David Meredith, Tillman Weyde, and Darrell Conklin. It was clear that each panelist got their own view on music patterns: what is a music pattern, where does music pattern come from, music pattern and music structure, why is it important , etc. It’s such a diverse problem! There were lots of new ideas and thoughts got accross the room.

We made some slides and documents during the discussion. Please shoot me an email if you’re interested in getting them!

It’s a pity that we had some Skype issues, especially with the connection to India…

Taking a friend traveling in the Netherlands (Version 1.5 days)

(This is one of the belated summer posts)

A good friend visited me on his road trip across Europe while I was taking my Dutch course, so we had very limited time. But luckily he was driving and we managed to see a lot just in 1.5 days!

The route was like this: Utrecht -> Den Haag -> Amsterdam -> Utrecht


We were lucky that the first day in Den Haag and Amsterdam wasn’t raining. The beach and city centre of Den Haag was beautiful! Too bad all the museums close very early (5pm!)…

On the way to Amsterdam, we picked up two hitch-hikers from Germany. They said it was particularly difficult in Den Haag and they already waited for about an hour! It was funny how conversations got developed in English, French, German and Dutch.

After dropping them off at their Hotel, we went to park under the conservatory/library underground parking. We went to the library to see Amsterdam from high up, then took the free shuttle boat to the North and back (bikes on the “sea” yay), and finally walked all the way down to the museumplein and back.

I knew some of these places from friends and some from wandering in the city on my own. Good to be reminded of these good memories (or even bitter ones) by just visiting the places again. And it’s fun to pass down these “hidden” places to other friends. Propagation through social interactions! My mind has already started  on its own to try to build a agent based model out of this haha 😀

But perhaps the best way of travelling is still just wander around. Find little wonders that few people notice. I sometimes wish google map could have an “exploratory” route planner, ideally with audio guide to tell you where to look. Could be very challenging!

Of course everyone has multiple/different purposes when traveling. It complicates the problem even further….

The end of a “busy” summer -2017

The summer in the Netherlands is coming to an end.  This is the first time I experience the Holland summer in full (well, strictly speaking, minus 2 weeks in the UK and Paris).

Five years ago, I spent 2 weeks in the Netherlands and I liked it very much. The weather was very chill back then but I thought it was because I went at the end of August, just coincidentally I didn’t get caught in the heat wave.  Now it’s been pleasantly proved that my thinking was wrong. And an average around 23 degrees is not bad at all, it’s great!

Ok, now, more things happened in the summer. I went to more festivals and meet-ups than usual. That’s also why I didn’t write many blog posts (0 in July, big excuse). More posts will come after (I’ve already posted a few, like this one, this one and this one. And as I wrote here, I’m going to schedule the new ones once per day so it doesn’t swamp people’s feed).

It was nice spending a summer day in Utrecht as well. Ice cream, frites and flowers 😀 ++ Books!

Five years, before and after in the Netherlands

As I mentioned it a few times in my posts, my first encounter with the Netherlands is 5 years ago. Back then I could never have imagined I would come back 5 years later and do my PhD here. It’s a funny sensation every time when I think about it. So I decided to write something about it.

Let me ask myself some questions in this direction and answer just in a few keywords (I love keywords. They are abstract and give rise to the possibilities of different interpretations. Ok, I don’t like this all the time. But in casual writing, it should be fine. ):

What I was thinking and what I am thinking: Poisson geometry and all kinds of physics VS. music information retrieval and  functional programming

Anything else different: train station, constructions on campus, devices I have, my skills and experience, people around me, etc. (these are some changes I realised, there might be way more..)

How about invariants, anything didn’t change: the layout of the cities, the weather, the sheeps, the parks, the canals, bus, dom, etc.

One thing in-between changed and didn’t change is where I’ve been staying for 7 months now (gonna move out soon though). I’m staying in the same building as 5 years ago but just on a different side.  The room feels so familiar.

It’s like having two major “commits” in life. Am I doing it right? Was I wrong back then? Or was it actually the reverse? It’s good to remember something which worked in the past, but I think I tend to take in new information and move forward, always…(unlike git)

One last funny thing is about the dutch language. I was back then with a group of physicists friends and I discintively remember the conversation was about the dutch language. I thought to myself, “it’s an interesting language, but I’ll probably never have the time to learn it”. Just one month ago, this was proven to be wrong. Time proves things!


On the left: Photos taken five years ago

On the right: My lunch a few weeks ago, ordered at the left bottom red cottage, local “tea house”

Attending ICFP 2017

Today is the last day of ICFP 2017. It was a fascinating three days conference (+1 day PLMW who partially funded me to conference, a big thank you! And the content was great, too: I’m checking out all the previous PLMW videos now!).

I’m in general very positive about the conference, but I have to say, it’s not in my comfort zone (yet). As you can probably deduce, this is my first ICFP and my knowledge about functional programming is way below the sealevel of other conference attendees. The up side of this is, when I talk to people, there’s lots of gain for me; the down side is, it makes it hard to approach to people, especially not to take their valuable time when they could have more productive conversations. Towards the end, I think I’m getting used to have more casual and short conversations, which hopefully could be small gains for both sides. On my side, I definitely gained a lot by talking to people from very different backgrounds. Although this happened, the people are in general very nice and open!

The technical side of the talks are very interesting but challenging. In general, I think I was able to enjoy the first 5 mins of each talk at least. And I was able to have a sense of the main topics in this area of research, get to know the concept of pearl and experience report, the kind of equations and terms that appear again and again, the interaction between the audience and the speakres, etc. The real-time questions and answers on the slack channels pointed me more directions. Some authors put their slides there also and it was great to be able to look at the slides as reference when the talk was happening. These blog posts also helped me understanding the materials.

Putting aside the technical part, some of the talks are really very well-made (background intro, anologies, code and interaction embeddings, high-lighting, colour schemes and comics as well of course!). I think I can definitely use some of those presentation techniques to future research.

In the end, it was three + 1 days with lots of content. I think I’ll check out the papers in more details at some point and try to understand more what was going on (maybe with more guidance..). The Oxford podcast did live stream this year, but they will probably put the videos online soon, and that would help too. In the mean time, I will go back and learn more foundations…(I just realised in these days the tolls of never did a CS degree..)

It is a mix of being fortunate and unfortunate that there are lots of deadlines coming up and I need to work when there’s no talks and no mingles. Always a balance of input and output!

Learnt a lot and gained lots of motivations! The week is not over yet though. Looking forward to the few workshops happening Thursday and Friday, and FARM on Saturday!



Learning Dutch

First summer in the Netherlands, I signed up to a 4 weeks dutch language course at 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…