a journal of a researcher

Friday, May 27, 2005

Visiting England

This is the first time I visit UK. Since the conference has no more to say, I used the time to visit my classmate who is working in Birmingham University and Stratford Upon Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. Photos will be posted.

I am very curious to see UK, because its many former colonies are now very successful, e.g. US, Canada, and HK. The other Western countries generated more problematic areas due to their rules on their former colonies. My short visit did not answer my question, because I did not see too many differences of UK and continent Europe. For my classmate, who lived in both continent Europe and UK, the UK people seem not holding too different visions than the Europeans. Well, I have to know more to say.

I found the root of my English. We learned British English in China. So we speak “pupil” and “middle school”, which are not used in North America. But the English accent is not so attractive to me anymore. I remember, my “middle school” refused an American to teach us, because our parents wanted us to learn British accent. Of course, we did not find a British teacher, and we did not learn any accent, except the Chinese English accent.

The accent or other culture things are economics dependent. When a country is rich, that means its people enjoy more pleasures in their life and its scientists know more advanced technologies. Then its culture becomes influential and adopted by other nations. Now this country is US. Even UK is influenced greatly by US. UK is an old empire that is out of date. This kind of fate is repeated in history many times. So US will have the same fate inevitably. After US, whose turn? Maybe China or India.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Ile d’Yeu

Among the Europeans, you will find you are in life. Though they are hard working people, they do not care too much the ranking, neither are they too keen to gain status. So they can keep in solitude status for a long time. Compared to this, North American style is a little bit too competency oriented. The researchers work and work in order not to be solitude, as I observed.

In Ile d’Yeu, we had a bicycle tour on Day Two afternoon. The weather was good. I was able to finish the full turn around the coast of the island. It was about 3 hours for 32km. It was a very quiet island with 5000 habitants. The major industry is fishing and tourism. From the photos you can see its landscape and how the street looks like.

L'ile d'Yeu

Quiet Street



Tahiti Meeting

Tahiti Meeting is the annual “conference” for DREAM team in IRISA. The name comes from the fact that they always choose an island in Bretagne to hold the meeting. This year the meeting was held on L’ile d’Yeu which is in Vendee, the province south to Bretagne. We were 17 people, including all the profs in DREAM team, ph.d. students and 4 invited attendants from France Telcom, and other universities.

Day One’s presentations were on model-based diagnosis using discrete-event system. The current challenges are incremental diagnosis, diagnosability analysis. Alban Gretain who was just from AI05 presented his framework of incremental diagnosis and its usage in other analysis, such as system reconfiguration. Yannick Penncole, who is a French Australian now, presented his work of using diagnosability analysis to construct diagnoser. This kind of method works for discrete-event system only. Because DIAMOND project is launching in this team, Mao presented a new paper from Luca’s team on using MBD in Web Services diagnosis. This paper is a first step in this topic. I presented a short tutorial in Web Services and our work for OISEE project . The paper was accepted in ICWS05.

Day Two’s presentations were a mixture of data mining and diagnosis. I got to know they have a project on cardiology diagnosis. They collaborate with a prof who is specialized in cardiology single. DREAM team uses symbolic reasoning approach to help choosing signal processing algorithms and diagnosing the diseases. I will use their knowledge to try our algorithms developed for monotonicity analysis. This would be interesting work.

Day Two’s rest presentations and one presentation in Day Three were about logic research. One was on disjunctive logic programming by Yves Moinard . Though this French presentation was difficulty to fully understand, I saw how the research is done. Since disjunctive logic cannot be processed using …, it is a hard topic. Another presentation by Philippe Besnard was about causal logic reasoning. Since causality is important for diagnosis, I once also thought about the logic behind it. The presentation of course was a systematic analysis on this topic. I felt happy after I saw this work.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Kingdom of heaven

I saw Kingdom of Heaven in Paris last weekend. Unlike the other hollywood movies, the hero did not come to save the world and he was not immortal in his battles. Actually he was defeated twice in this movie, first before his own city, second time at Jerusalem. He retreated after the great deeds done.

The end of the movie has the Taoism flavor that the wise person finally realizes how the universe works and what his fate is. He finally holds the attitude that he does not need to do anything and this is the best strategy he can take. So he finds his peace before any lures. This is the biggest wisdom.

In nowadays world, or in any time, people are fighting for all kinds of things interesting to them. The president of US is sending his troop for his “crusade”. The researchers around the world are fighting for their kingdoms of research. But before playing it too hard, please think about something else other than the goal for a while, maybe the history, moral, fate, conscience ... Though they are too big to concern, they really matter. Maybe you can decide to go back home and play with your own children.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Academic in the old world and the new world

Comparing to Canada, this world is called the Old World. The best thing I like in Europe is its western academic traditions. You can find the research capacity is inherited by their blood. Their students probably do not need to be trained to do research, and even excellent research. I admired a lot my peer-students during my first visit to Germany as an exchange student in 1997. I came from an even older world, where we once led the technology in the world, but we never developed science. From 1997 to now, I am not a layman in scientific research any more. If let me criticize, I would say the Europeans are somewhat trapped by the formation of research. I’ve read many papers drawing trivial results from prefect formalization and presentation. Many papers discuss some subtle topics that only a few can be interested. In Europe, it is very common that a researcher stays in a very narrow domain for more than ten years. In this way, he/she is sure to e an expert on this domain. But the research is more like to play sophisticated games than solving real world problems. The good thing is the publishing is guaranteed each year by small steps of progresses.

In North America, things are different. The researchers want to get as much as funding, and produce as many as papers. They can have extreme long lists of publications. I do not know how people really evaluate the papers. But if so many people do this, maybe sometimes the length of the publication list works. In North America, the researchers change interests more bold. Ah, can be funding driven.

Anyway, for most of the researchers, research is a career that needs to manage and exploit. Many are hardworking craftsmen, instead of being a master. I would like to suggest that instead of working hard as a bee to accumulate the publication list and funding, it is better to enjoy your life if you do not have splendid ideas to work on.

Start at IRISA

I am now visiting IRISA in Rennes. Rennes is the capital city of Brittany in France. Surprisingly, even people outside the research lab are willing to speak a little bit English with me. And still surprisingly, my computer was prepared before my arrival and my laptop was connected to the network within one hour of my arrival. It is a much better experience than the last time when I worked in University Paris 13 during 2001-2002. But the French system still has its characteristics. My apartment was not connected to the electricity network for two days. The first night, I stayed in the lobby of the residence to read my paper. The second night, they offered me another apartment to stay. You can not think French has no way to work it out by just one phone call to EDF. The matter is who is responsible to make this phone call, which takes much more time. The French is the inventor of the bureaucracy system in Western. So you have to tolerate an inflexible system.