A senior student, Yingru Li, devotes most of his time in the lab and the live lectures.
In the past three years, a student from the class of 2013 of the school of computing, Yingru Li, submitted an original paper about social network of the field of computing as the first writer in the 31th International Artificial Intelligence top meeting (AAAI-17). He won the first place and most potential prize of the Software Definition National (SDN). He won the bronze prize of the PAC Concurrent Computation Competition in 2015. And he attended the research project in Cornell University under the scholarship in the summer of 2015, during which he visited the Turing Award Winner—John Hopcroft.
Challenge and Break-through
Ever since the second semester of his sophomore year, under the guidance of professor Kun He, Yingru Li started to prepare for an original research which mainly studies the complex social network, the bio network and so on. This project is also a cooperative project with Cornell University. During the project, the idea they put forward that the supposing opinion has imperfection and randomness, so in the last, they found enough evidence to prove their idea after 100 long-term experiments of Facebook social accounts.
When they have been studying it for a year and a half, he published his paper on the 31th International Artificial Intelligence top meeting (AAAI-17). And before that, there were judges from another competition thought differently on his paper because his idea was new, so they failed to accept it. But after that, based on the judges’ comment, he made a few changes of his paper after having several discussions with his professor, thus finding better method and better opportunity. He remembers clearly that there was a time when he had to keep doing his work in the lab till late into the night, sometimes he is even locked by the school janitor.
“We have tried many methods for this project, we have done thousands of experiments of different data.” Li also admitted, “ Failures are also a common part of doing research, but sometimes we need strong faith and it doesn’t mean stubbornness.”
For this boy who is always trying new things instead of imitating others, he meets challenges all the time. In the winter holiday of 2016, he attended the Mathematics Modeling Contest. In the four-day competition, Li and his teammates analyzed problems, put forward new ideas, build models and did experiment over the computer around a chosen theme, and finally they got a conclusion and chart. At last, they turned it into an English paper. In order to finish this 20-page paper, he stayed up all night.
Not long ago, the scientific research internship in the Microsoft Research Asia has brought him great challenge: To make some pure theoretical demonstration. Li has many thoughts after the summer internship, he used 2 weeks just to think of how to get the conclusion, and he found many logical mistakes when he was writing the paper. “During that time, I was always reflecting on this issue, if some idea occurs me at 2 AM or 3 AM, I would get up immediately to write it down.” And the feeling of having the idea gave him great pleasure.
Transformation and Improvement
From the Unique Studio to the lab, Li experienced huge transformation of his life. When he was in his first two years of college, he was always doing research in the Unique Studio. But during the summer of 2014, Li attended the Software Definition National (SDN) with his teammates. As the youngest competitor of it, he has achieved amazing success. Soon after that, he attended the PAC Concurrent Computation Competition in 2015. All the discussion and cooperation during all the competitions have helped him a lot on the way of his success in the field of scientific research.
One must choose a path that is more suitable for oneself during the practices over time. So when he was attending the SDN competition, a non-major problem—“Automatic identification of the types of Internet attacking through the detection of network flow” has brought him to a new world—machine learning. As a result, he started learning the relating knowledge and found it very useful in the basic thesis learning, thus picking up his interests in the basic subjects again.
At the same time, his idea has experienced a total change. He said: “There are two words in the economics, one is called silent cost, the other is called opportunity cost. I didn’t know whether I am making the right decision, but when I decide, I prefer not to take in the past that has no influence on the future, instead, I think of the present and the future.”
After some thinking about how to balance, Li decided that he wanted to leave more of his leisure time to the lab. Ever since the first semester of his second year of college, he has become the assistance of Professor Kun He in the work studio of John Hopcroft on the ninth floor of the Management Innovation Institute. This job is vital for him to turn the theories he learnt into practice. Maybe the days in the lab is very boring, but it is the common status of doing scientific research. Li said with a smile that he was trying to find the new things and interesting phenomenon in the experiments, and then try to understand them by using the knowledge he learnt.
This is a photo with 2 Turning Award winners and the members of Cornell University project. In the front row is Professor Kun He, the second to the left is Le.
“Learning from others is a great way to improve ourselves.” Li thinks that all the teachers and professors that has given him guidance, and all kinds of his schoolmates have many things that he can learn from. During the research communication in Cornell University, he realized that different people that come from different backgrounds have different thinking patterns. And all the knowledge is somehow connected. So he has gained a lot through simple discussion and communications with others. He formed a diversified thinking pattern instead of focusing too much on the rights and wrongs.
“Focusing on scientific research” is a common sentence people say, but there are not many people that really understand it. As for the name of “Star of scientific research”, Li said calmly, “This name is a recognition of my former work. I don’t know how far I can walk down this road, but I am quite enjoying solving problems along the research.” Fun and dull are both very important along the road, and Li must live with both of these. “This job is fun, but sometimes it is also boring, even though I do not know how far I can walk down this road, I hope I can finish what I started.”