Having accepted an offer to a Doctor of Philosophy program, I have finished my final admission to a higher degree (‘升学’) as doctorate is the highest possible degree. It’s time to review my road to knowledge and thank those who have helped and shaped me.
Rewinding the marquee of life, admission to a higher degree seems to have always been easy. I went to kindergartens (yes, plural) close to where I lived at that age, and afterwards, went to Tu Qiang Primary School II (图强第二小学 TQEX), a nearby school. In a recent talk to my mom, she told me that I even had some sort of interview before I was admitted. Well, it is true that the school wasn’t any polish brand when I attended it. It’s getting better now, gaining its reputation slowly. From TQEX, I would like to thank Yun Zhang, my second class supervisor, Guiling Xue, my second maths teacher, and Xueying Huang, then vice president and now the president. I had very bad temper then and they were always understanding and guiding.
I must have been lucky. My parents took a cousin of mine to Beijing for better education, who went to an education fete at Shijingshan (Bajiao) Amusement Park, where I met someone who introduced me to Bo Qin, the coach of Olympiad in Informatics. He is also affiliated with Beijing No. 4 High School (北京市第四中学 BHSF), where I spent my 6 years of secondary study. Were it not for him, I would have been attending Beijing National Day School (北京市十一学校). Of course, both schools are prestigious (I would say BHSF is better 😄). That I went to BHSF was really a twist of destiny — when my parents bought the house we now live in, it was chosen to be close to National Day School. I have amazing classmates, schoolmates and friends as well as teachers from BHSF. There, I made my best friends forever and a lot of connections in future academia. I would like to emphasise my thanks to Bo Qin, Tianbao Xiang and Pin Du. Mr. Qin was the one who brought me to the beautiful world of information sciences. Mr. Xiang was my physical education teacher for several terms. Affected by him, I came to realise the importance of physical well-being and taking exercises. Ms. Du was my Chinese teacher. She is understanding, empathetic and guiding and she is always the one one can trust. What’s more, she’s cool!
During my senior high school life, I tried competitive chemistry but did not make interesting progress, and continuted what I loved, love and will love. I have to admit that I was weak in informatics, not having got even a silver medal until grade 11. But I enjoyed it very much. Getting into Tsinghua University for undergraduate education took me some effort. I mistakenly ignored the invitation to attend an admission camp (e-mail on 17 June 2012), only to discover it after the event had ended one week ago. Later, I took Advanced Assessment for Admission (自主招生 AAA), after which I was offered relaxed requirement on admission to Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences, Tsinghua University (姚班 Yao class). During that period, I would like to thank Belinda (Qianchao) Ban, former Developer Platform Evangelish for Microsoft Student Partner program in China, who invited me to the program. I am also grateful that Xingyuan Chen (an acquaintance via the company where my mom works) and Jia Chen (a teacher in informatics) wrote letters of recommendation for me, without which I couldn’t have had the chance to take AAA.
There is another person whom I would like to thank, Tao Meng. He has known me since the end of primary school, was my senior high school classmate, is my roommate at Tsinghua (hence a classmate in Yao class) and has accepted the offer from UCLA. He kindly reminded me of the event I missed. Though not very timely, it awoke me to the urgency of seriously considering admission to a higher degree. He introduced Yao class to me and I have always owed my discovery of and my deciding to go to the class to him (he denies that he never ‘persuaded’ me to Yao class 😄). Moreover, he mentioned cryptography when we talked about our possible areas of interest. He isn’t doing crypto now, but I do.
From the university, there are bunch of persons to thank. I would like to give my express thanks to Prof. Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, who founded Yao class. I would also like to thank Prof. John Paul Steinberger, my instructor in rudimentary crypto. During the spring of 2017, I went to Aarhus Universitet as an exchange student, where I worked with Prof. Ivan Bjerre Damgård, a great researcher and advisor. I also met Prof. Gerth Stølting Brodal, who taught Algorithm Engineering there. Since the fall of 2017, I have been working as an intern at Microsoft Research Asia, supervised by Dr. Yan Xu and Dr. Eric I-Chao Chang. I would like to express my gratitude to Yao, Damgård, Brodal and Chang for writing letters of recommendation, without which I couldn’t have gone so far. I would also like to thank Xu for revising my statement of purpose and my résumé.
Of course, there are my mom and dad to thank, who, despite quarrels from time to time, always love, nurture and support me.
The application turned out to be very successful. I received 6 offers for doctoral programs in computer science. Taking serveral factors into consideration, I accepted the one from University of California, Santa Barbara. I wish myself five happy years pursuing the terminal degree.
Again, my sincerest thanks to everyone who have helped and shaped me.