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Variational Bayesian approach to movie rating prediction

If you are interested in collaborative filtering and/or movie rating prediction, please refer to the proceedings of KDD Cup and Workshop 2007. One possible extension to our work is briefly described here

One reason to visit USA

One of the perks of visiting USA - drinking strange but funky drinks. Today I am drinking Bossa Nova açai juice - nature's highest antioxidant fruit.

açai juice

[wikipedia] [official site]

Wireless@SG - Unequal experience

Yuck - The wireless provided by QMax under the Wireless@SG flagship inserts banners into your web surfing experience. The other providers Singtel and iCELL Network do not insert such unsolicited advertisements into the browser.

Banner insertion

Geez, QMax even seizes the top frame of a blogger page and makes it impossible to enter a new blog article using the top bar! Outrageous!

Banner insertion

Ok, fine. The wireless is free.


In other news, I will be joining Google in its Mountain View, CA office as a Software Engineer towards the end of the year. In the meantime, I will be amending my thesis for submission (whoopie! graduating!), finishing up work, packing up, and going to apply for my US visa.

Make Mathematics Sexy, Smart and Desirable

CSI has driven so many people into forensics that colleges have started whole new programs because of it -- can we do the same for the rest of science?
- Aaron Swartz's thoughts on Science Foo Camp 2007

Agreed. Movie and TV shows can bring a career path into the limelight and the focus of popular opinion - This newspaper article noted that undergraduates studying forensic or archaeological science have increased more than 30% since the introduction of shows like the CSI series.

However, it seems to be that not all publicity is good publicity as a educational promotional tool. Ever noticed how mathematicians are always portrayed as a little ... strange?

Despite the show Numb3rs, which features a mathematician using mathematics to solve high-profile crimes, it nevertheless portrays the protanganist as socially awkward (but hey, then again, he gets the girl). This follows in the same vein as A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting. The result is a job in which people envy for its social status ("he's such a genius, I wish I was as smart as him"), but is simulatenously not desirable ("oh, I don't want to seem like such a freak").

Can we have a show with a sexy, smart (is this adjective redundant?) and desirable mathematician?


Computer graphics and HCI are fields of study with work which I have immense respect for, as they seamlessly apply mathematics to create breathtaking results. It is always entertaining (and sometimes mind-blowing to think about how it's done) to look at SIGGRAPH videos. Well, the preview videos for SIGGRAPH 2007 are out.



Today I had my PhD defence. Actually, it was relatively pain-free, and was over after approximately one and a half hours (basically a seminar and a few questions).

Verdict: Passed - but with minor amendments.

Awesome, but somehow I am too zoned out to work currently. Too much excitement for one day.

Removed 4 Aug due to (potential) copyright issues (with images) Added 9:51pm - defence slides

George Yeo plays a particular kind of golf

After reading about educational backgrounds of Singapore and Malaysia cabinet members, I snooped around wikipedia to flesh out more details on the biography of the ministers like George Yeo.

A quick scan of the MFA biographical summaries revealed that George Yeo "likes to read, travel, swim and jog. He also plays poor golf."

Mildly amusing.


The business canteen must have learnt something via proximity to the school - hot water cost 20 cents. And right beside the stall is a water dispenser, for both hot and cold water.


ICML 2007

The papers for ICML 2007 are now available online. As a game AI researcher, interesting papers include:

1. Learning to Solve Game Trees. David Stern, Ralf Herbrich and Thore Graepel.

Formulating a probabilistic model for nodes in a game-tree and performing best-first AND/OR search. Interesting trend in integrating statistical machine learning techniques into game-tree search techniques. See also authors' prior paper on Bayesian pattern matching in computer Go.

2. Combining Online and Offline Knowledge in UCT. Sylvain Gelly and David Silver.

UCT - Upper confidence Tree search is a promising game-tree search technique for games with high branching factor. This paper sheds some light on what does and does not work when using UCT.