Archive for the 'Education' Category

Resolusi 2013

Urut berdasarkan prioritas terendah:

3. Melanjutkan project Anastasia

2. Submit disertasi

1. Submit paper di konferensi/jurnal tier 1

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Update

Hello again.

Life has been hectically hectic in the last few weeks, but I don’t think I can/should tell much here, other than this involved me camping in the lab for a few days and reversing my active schedule, being active at night and dormant in the morning. My friend cum rival [Koh Eon] called this “creating one’s own jetlag”. Another thing, the word “[capalang]” has been very familiar to my ear. In Indonesia, we call it “seksi sibuk”.

For these reasons, among a few others, I have been quite inactive on Facebook. I have not been in a mood to have lengthy discussions about pointless, trivial stuffs, although admittedly, I have a number of questions as well as cynical remarks in my mind. This includes questions about another perspective about things which recently happened in the Indonesian embassy in Germany, about our vice president’s statement on loudspeakers in Indonesian mosques, about politics in campus, and many others. Albeit me stating things here, please do not bother to mention things about them, lest my ignoring your comments.

For leisure, I have gone to the city a few times in the last one week. I, Koh Eon, and two other labmates KMD and AC went to a [ramen championship] in Bugis. It says that the chefs are among the famous in Japan, coming from the corners of Hakata to Sapporo, so the taste of the meals must be authentic and of a high standard.  These chefs are competing with each other to find whose stalls are the most wanted. I tried spicy tsukemen, which, unlike ramen, has the noodle and the soup served separately. Well it was quite nice, but not in my best list. Certainly it must be quite hard for Indonesians to appreciate delicacies of other nations. At about 15 SGD per serving, it might be comparable to mid-range restaurants in Singapore. I don’t know how this compares to restaurants in Japan.

Two days ago I and Koh Eon had a kopdar with [Felicia] and her friend, initial F (?), in Chinatown, Singapore. You can see some photos of us in Koh Eon’s photo album.

Among the blogs I newly discover is [100 Reasons NOT to Go to Grad School]. Another demotivational blog. Some points in it pierce my heart so deep (the use of an adjective, instead of an adverb, is deliberate). Indeed the most elite universities are always mostly filled by those graduates of Ivy League and Oxbridge, so as an underperforning student of a young university, my inferiority complex and worry about my future raised again when I read it. [One commentator] even went as far as, “If you can’t get into a top grad program, what makes you think you can get a top job? Reality check, people!” Although, well, yes and no. This might be statistically true. However, having got their PhD degrees for arguably less internationally known universities, some professors, like Hiroshi Ishii and Pattie Maes, manage to teach and do research in globally famous universities, like MIT’s Media Lab in their case. At the end, it depends on what kind of paths you want to take. Let’s not discuss about my situation with respect to this idea. Anyway, there are two other things. One, I can’t help being confused when the writer argue about salary. Indeed if you want to earn much money, you work for bank or oil companies, not as a medieval English literature researcher. Two, I think everything there is mentioned from the point of view of an American, which might be applicable to other people from other developed countries. However, if you are unlucky enough to be born in third-world countries, it is very unlikely for you to list down Stanford or MIT or Cambridge as a university you realistically want to get enrolled at after your graduation from high school, let alone teaching in world class universities, and therefore teaching in a globally second or third class university is already good enough. We just didn’t have such luxury, which sucked. This also motivates me to go and settle in another country, so that my descendants, if I ever find my rare-breed soulmate, have better opportunities than me.

Enough of this rage.

Lastly, to end this post, here is a picture of Angela Gossow of Arch Enemy. Hot enough for a lady, I often imagine her hissing like a snake above me.

Angela Gossow (via Wikipedia)

Angela Gossow (via Wikipedia)

Printed Book Killed the Internet Star

I just came across [this Kimi’s post] and posted the link in there to my Facebook account, and I thought it was a good idea to also post some of my comments there in here.

Firstly, I would like to introduce [this article]. My opinion seems to be somewhere in between, and there are aspects of just on both sides. On one hand, indeed websites like this fail to financially recognise the original authors. But on the other hand, shutting down these websites kill scholars all around the world, especially outside the first-world countries.

I always believe that education is expensive. Doing research is expensive. Collecting papers is expensive. Analysing them is also expensive. Writing a book based on them is even more expensive. This is the effort which websites like this don’t appreciate. But as I said, scholars all around the world are murdered for not being able to purchase it. Their dreams are being crushed.

My ideal thought is to keep research and book-authoring expensive so as to maintain their qualities, but make it available in locally acceptable prices. Prices in USA will be different from prices in, let’s say, Timor Leste. But as I said, this is an ideal thought. I don’t know yet how we can make such system. Or even its possibility. How can we sell an originally USD 100 book in IDR 20,000? Using government subsidy? I am not even sure whether they are thinking about this problem. Moreover, we are talking about the international community in which one country does not have any responsibility for citizens of other countries.

My solution for now, especially for those who don’t have enough money to buy 5 x USD 100 books every semester, although I completely doubt its legality, is to buy books collectively. One hundred people can buy one book on Calculus and make 100 copies, one for each. You still need to pay, but it will be much cheaper. So, this is a trade-off for both publishers and buyers. Publishers won’t get as much money as they should have received, but at least the consumers make some contributions to them. And if you live in countries like my home country of Indonesia, I am quite sure that nobody will trace you for making numerous copies of a whole book. Anyway, we had been doing this for a long time.

BTW I am not sure whether book publishers take these people in third-world countries into account when calculating their potential revenues. They have never bought many, it seems to me. Even in the library of the faculty of the university where I used to study, you can find many copied books. A lot of them. So what I am trying to say is, is it a big loss for publishers when we do this?

Putting things aside, that’s why I always greatly appreciate authors who make some versions of their books available for free online. You can find an example here: [Planning Algorithms] by Steven M. LaValle.

The title is a homage to this classic song from The Buggles:

This is a recurring theme, when a new technology replaces older ones. Earlier this month we saw [the printed versions of Encyclopaedia Britannica being stopped, mainly due to the company’s lost to the emergence of online encyclopedias like Wikipedia]. I dub this “internet killed the printed book star”. What I bring in this post is the exact opposite, in which “printed book killed the internet star”.

Being Realistic

And there finally goes my second paper after 2.5 years. Already submitted. Not a great paper, I am not even sure whether it will be accepted, but at least there is a significant improvement from my first.

Sometimes I think that whatever I do, I can never fulfill my ideal dream. I can probably still chase my C–E goals, but never my A-B. No Nobel, no Turing Award, no Wikipedia page, no tenure in an elitist university, no job in Microsoft. Two things. One, coming from a mid-class family in a “third-world country” means that it was really hard for me to get a world-class education with a proper direction. It took me a long detour from Math – EE – IT – CS  – Math again, and I often think that I have wasted some years studying things which can be considered advanced but I won’t use in the rest of my life. My original passion is actually Math and always Math, although later I found that algorithmic, computational, and visual touches make Math much more comfortable to me. Please note that it doesn’t mean I am not grateful. I am really grateful. In fact, given my background, it was among the best education I could get. But it doesn’t mean that I cannot criticise, does it.

Two. Coming from a conservative society means that I have to put family life above everything else. Nah, drop that conservative thingy. I think it is a value shared by many societies in the world. But anyway, after passing certain age, it will be my turn to breed, and at that time I have to spend more time with my descendants. I don’t dare to lead a life a la Erdos. Furthermore, this nerdy gene from the periphery of a Gaussian distribution has to be passed to the next generation.

Well, since goals A–B might not be possible for me, I think I have to think of another way which can grant me a Wikipedia page to contribute as optimal as possible to human civilisation. Anyway, I target to live until about 75, so hopefully I still/only have 50 years plus to do something.

Some Thoughts on Math

God uses geometry as a mean for creation, scholars of the Middle Age believed (picture from Wikipedia)

God uses geometry as a mean for creation, scholars of the Middle Age believed (picture from Wikipedia)

One. I, being educated as a computer scientist, often cannot help thinking, upon reading papers from Pure Topology, as for how concepts mentioned there can be implemented using computer programming languages. For example, how do we implement the concept of vertex neighbourhood in C++? Whereas Computational Geometry was inaugurated in 1970s by Shannon and Chazelle (despite some earlier papers), probably Computational Topology had not seen as much attention until 1990s, and this sometimes makes me wonder whether implementations of topological concepts are harder to find. Either way, comparison between Pure Geometry, whose life spans across over 5000 years, and Computational Geometry (and Topology) is just like comparing an old, wise sage and a newborn baby.

Two. This semester, I am assigned as an example class assistant in Discrete Mathematics. While re-familiarising myself with concepts in it, an old thought emerges again, that Discrete Mathematics is considerably easier to grasp, let’s say if compared to Calculus, and we can see many applications of it in our daily lives. Some theories on propositional and predicate logic, for example, can help us to prevent ourselves from having fallacious thoughts and eventually making a cleaner blogosphere. Why is it then only taught in high schools (or equivalent levels)? Why is it not introduced earlier, let’s say in primary schools or secondary schools?

Some Thoughts On Political Correctness

To me, it remains a question, whether we should go with political correctness all the times, and whether it is good to begin with.

During our time in high school, we were almost totally politically incorrect. Racial jokes about the Javanese and the Chinese, the two ethnic majorities in the school, were  brought up everyday. “Jowo babu!” “Cino pokil!” There are many variations of it. “Kowe siji-sijine Jowo pokil ning sekolah”, etc. Not only the students did that, but the teachers sometimes did too. Did anybody get hurt with those jokes? Hardly. In fact, we laughed, and it strengthened the friendship. Another example, one Javanese guy would shout at two Chinese who were fighting with each other with “Wis podho Cinane ra sah kerengan.” Now, wasn’t that a good use? And these jokes weren’t only about race. One Christian friend intentionally teased a Muslim friend by eating some bread in front of the latter during one Ramadhan month. I think it was in our third year. Jokingly, yes. They laughed together, and the Christian friend left afterwards. That was probably not the most hardcore. I heard that in the 70s or 80s there was a student who was disabled (he lost a leg or something), so he used a prosthetic leg. After that, as a teacher retold the story, and if I remember correctly, another friend said to him, “wah kowe kuwi kurang ajar, wis ngerti bumi ki atos kok ya isih dites nganggo sikil palsu, kualat kowe.” The rule in our school seems to be like this: you get offended, you lose. You win if you can exchange mockeries. Well I definitely joined these kinds of jokes. But indeed, during our graduation, the then-vice-headmaster mentioned it in a speech that we should be careful in making these jokes especially outside the school, simply because not many could accept them.

It actually keeps me wondering. For what reasons do people bother about political correctness? I have an opinion in which some people who have been abused using politically incorrect words in the past are reminded of that particularly bad experience. That case, however, is reminiscent of people traumatised by other factors. Fire, for example. There was a friend of mine in primary school who was afraid of fire after he got some droplets of melting straw fall onto his leg and burnt his skin. Is fire bad? Yes. And it is good too. At that time, it was probably wiser for him to stay away from fire temporarily. However, at the end of the day, I believe he should re-approach fire again, to confront his fear. Another factor is misunderstanding about the intention, especially if you don’t know the person closely (I will discuss more on this in the next paragraph). Well these are two factors, so if any commentator knows about other factors, I would like to be enlightened please.

To me, the intention is what matters. You can always use political correctness to offend people (well in fact I always try to keep my politeness when trolling hahaha), and, likewise, political incorrectness to entertain. And this is my point of why I usually keep a derision towards political correctness. Political incorrectness is sometimes beneficial. Now if the intention is indeed to humiliate, I would love to see someone punch the person on his nose.

Well, our humble beginning of exchanging teases with friends brings me deeper into the more general social issue. In fact, I defended a Chinese friend from our hometown as being, well, native Jogjakartan, after he was mocked by a Batak friend who came from Pematang Siantar. “Hei kamu Batak, biarpun dia orang Cina, dia orang asli sini. Kamu tuh yang pendatang,” I said. Definitely that was also a joke. In another occasion, I defended the right of the general Chinese community to speak Hokkien, after a friend who had just gone to Medan alleging them for being un-nationalistic for speaking that “foreign language” on a daily basis. Hokkien is also their regional language, just like how Javanese people speak Javanese language and so on and so forth, I said to him.

Why so serious?

Project Banff

Banff, Alberta, Canada

Banff, Alberta, Canada

Barusan supervisor saya nyuruh saya untuk ngirim paper ke konferensi [Cyberworlds 2011] di Banff, Alberta, Canada. Continue reading ‘Project Banff’


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You can write comments in any language that you want, but please bear in mind that I only understand 4 languages: English, Indonesian, Javanese and Malay.

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