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I have always been quite confident in my learning ability. I believe for any given topic, I would be able to understand the logic behind and apply those knowledge to solve (sadly, but true) exam problems within a short amount of time. From school to university, even until early this year.
This level of confident has decreased recently in a good way I think. It reminds me that there are topics in field even I am most familiar with and interested in require significant effort to understand not to mention master or even contribute.
The two courses I taken via Coursera from Sep are Neural Network & Probability Graphic Model. Most of my learning is to watch the lecture videos while I commuting between home and office. I didn’t put in enough effort to really read through the slides and research on further materials mentioned by the instructor. I found myself missing quite a number of knowledge point. Especially in NN, many incitation and techniques introduced are very alien to me. Not only I can’t understand why do they use those tricks to train a network, but the exact difference between techniques.
Quizes for these 2 courses are still quite manageable, even though I am not fully understand what the lecturer said. However, those programming assignments are really big headache to me. Sometimes I spend more than 10 hours on 1 assignment, and still cannot figure out the right way. Sometimes I have to rely on reverse engineering by guess the expected result via trial and error.
It is a bit disappointed when I read that the answers for those programming assignment will not be released even after the course ended. It would continue be a status of half-half for me, even I can score perfectly by bootstrapping the answers.
After a few more hours on the assignment last night, I decided to stop. I will keep the assignment in my “Someday: ToDo” list when I have the opportunities to really go through the material thoroughly again.
Back to the original purpose of this post, I am here to remind myself that in order to be an expert in an even narrowly defined field, I need to prepare myself mentally. Knowledge and skills in this world are so diverse and profound that so many smart people have contribute their lives. I should not expect a shortcut to lead me there.
EDIT: Turns out the NN staff point us the right direction with an excellent post in the forum who carefully explained the algorithm.
And it turns out that I was distracted by the ret=loss() function provided in the sample. My weight decay is totally off. I should have use what I learned from the Machine Learning by Andrew Ng on the regulation term.
Where do I want to be 10 years from now?
I could continue to work as an employee in a few companies. With some luck, I may become a middle manager in charge of a few systems and leading a few teams. I may have higher pay and live in a larger house located at a better location and drive a better car that can be parked nearer to my office. I would be able to choose a better seat in the office (most likely at the corner near windows). I may get to evaluate the young and have the right to promote those I think performed better during the year.
But there are a few snapshot that I imaged if I follow that path made me laugh at myself. Yes, according to business convention here, bosses choose their seat window corner seat first. But due to some randomness, my boss’ boss is at 2 seats on my right near the window. As a result, he constantly needs to pull the curtain up and down to balance the reflection on his monitor. Well, because I seated far from the window, stable supply of electricity save me all those troubles.
And yes, the big boss have a fancy big house located in a well-established neighborhood. But excluding the 8 hours of sleeping time (may be less, assume 6 hours only), he can only enjoy 3~4 hours a day there, as I assume he would have to spend more than 12 hours near my seat during the day.
I assume he drives a fancy car as well, as I have yet to meet him while he is driving. He would have to make a tradeoff between how long he wants to stay in his big house or in his fancy car due the rush hour traffic in CBD.
What’s next? Oh, while I am waiting for his appraisal at the end of the year, he had just gone through his with his boss who is holding our feedback to him as well. And so far as I know, we get a big treat from him at year end, but he may not have such a generous boss.
Well, I can’t give an answer for the question in this post, but a general principle for the path I need to choose is to choose differently.
The lesson of Buffett was: To succeed in a spectacular fashion you had to be spectacularly unusual.
(Lewis, Michael (2010-05-12). The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (p. 35). Norton. Kindle Edition.)
CAUTION: I am not criticizing people, I just record my imagination.
Many of my friends have converted their citizenship. Though China is developing fast and possesses bigger market and opportunities, Singapore as a city country still an unarguably better place to stay and work. The society is more secure, the salary is much higher, and the social relationship is more pleasant as opposed to the more complicated 人情 (relationships that we call “guan xi”) in China.
My main resistance for conversion lie in my national pride and my best wishes for the growth in China. This emotion is hard to express, but the thinking of giving up one’s own country doesn’t make me go easy. (I am not criticizing people who converted the citizenship. It is just a hard decision for me. And my difficulties are giving up is not without reasons.) Not just about the emotion connections, I also believe in the next 10~15 years, a Chinese passport will help me find the biggest goldmine to fulfill my dreams.
On the other hand, there are many reasons for citizenship conversion. Easier to travel, no visa is required for a Singapore Passport to vist most of the countries. It helps a lot for people who need to travel to different countries due to business reasons. It is especially attractive for people who owns “Hu Kou” from a not so well develop country side in China. Subsidized housing, Singaporeans enjoy heavy subsidize for purchasing HDB (government housing scheme) and less contraints for other real property investment. Subsidized childcare and mothercare after birth. The government give our strong incentives to local people give birth earlier and more. Cash and future education benefits are provided at the birth of the kid. A Singaporean mothers enjoys longer maternity leave as well as other medical expense coverage.
However, I guess the most compelling reason for most of my friends decision is the kids education. Compare to foreigners’ kids, citizens’ children enjoy every possible priorities to enter a more reputable primary schools. And for most oriented parants, kids are not supposed to lose their social competition at the starting line. Parants will seek every possible doors to increase the odds of their kids to be successful. Hence, converting to Singapore citizen and enjoy those “priorities” against foreigners is the first step.
During the discussion with my wife this morning, we suddenly realize the old saying “可怜天下父母心” (the hearts of parants everywhere). Parants always think about their kids and make decisions to maximize their well being. While our parants encourage or push us to convert in order to enjoy the stability and welfare of the country, we resist strongly with argument that we will be able to take care ourselves and benefits of new passport are not strong enough to cover our switching cost psychologically. When we start to think of having kids and raise them, their schooling opportunities become the single reason we need to rethink our previous decision.
We ignored advice from our parants, but considering making the exact decision for our kids.
Some take away from yesterday’s conversation with another entrepreneur.
Your team and yourself should work happily not stressfully towards your target.
If a problem has been solved by others, there will be a way. If you worked so hard and still failed, step back and think alternative solutions. Working hard is not an excuse for miss a target.
Enjoy the process of learning and growing, always exploring a more efficient way to your result, don’t just burry yourself in the tasks.
Stay productive, more importantly be creative.
Stay absolutely confident and modest
Stand your view while listen to advice. Get rid of your eggheadedness
Find a process that can free your manpower.
At certain stage of your company, try to formalize and stabilize your method of growing. First, trial, fail, summarize what you have done, and choose an effective process.Then, familiarize the process so that your team get more things done in less time. This is when the team should explore the next stage of growth