Meet the supervisors: Liang Wang

One of our new supervisors this term is Liang Wang.  Liang has just started as a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) at Queens’. The PRDA position is relatively new and the idea is to give postdocs in the university a way to have a college association. Liang will be able to come and dine in college and take part in other things going on at Queens’.

Here is some information from Liang about himself:

Liang Wang is a research associate in the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. He is also a PDRA (PostDoc Research Associate) at Queens’ College, and supervises the following courses in this academic year: Principles of Communications, Information Retrieval, and Operating Systems. Liang’s research has focused on the design and optimisation of network systems. By introducing a data analytics component into the system design, he believes that future network systems are able to understand and exploit contextual information to adapt themselves in various scenarios instead of serving as naive transmission media. His broad research interests lay in big data frameworks, social network analysis, mechanism design in opportunistic networks, modeling and analysis of complex systems, ranging from P2P overlay to high-frequency financial market.

Before joining the Cambridge, he received both his MSc and PhD degrees in the Computer Science Department at the University of Helsinki, Finland in 2011 and 2015 respectively. In his spare time, Liang likes reading, coding, cycling, and jogging around the Cambridge.

Welcome back

Welcome back everyone to the new academic year.  We have 8 new computer science freshers this year which is a bit of an increase on previous years.  We also have a student visiting us from MIT to take Part 1B.  I’m looking forward to a busy year!

Visiting California

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks in California visiting research groups and giving some talks.  I was able to visit Parc, HP labs, Palantir (thanks to Craig for organising that one!), Stanford, Qualcomm. I also had a really interesting trip to Google to meet with Ciera Jaspen. She arranged all sorts of interesting people for me to talk to.

Here’s the video from my talk at Stanford:

I was talking about Device Analyzer which we’ve been working on for a good few years now.  My more recent work has been looking at programming languages and tools as part of the NAPS project.

Coding Summer School

Last week the Computer Laboratory ran its first ever Coding Summer School for Girls.  We have 40 of the participants staying at Queens’.  Robin Walker gave a tour of college – including demonstrating the principles of the Mathematical Bridge with matchsticks.


I also organised punting for those who wanted it – and noone fell in!


We also had a posh dinner in Old Hall – but I don’t have a picture of that.

I hope everyone had a good time.

Captain Buzz

Ramsey and Ollie (one of my PhD students) built a UAV drone from scratch and used an Android phone to control it.  They used a neat trick to modulate the motor control signals into the audio output of the phone.  Here’s a video of Ramsey on computerphile@youtube talking about it:

Queens’ visit to Google Deepmind

Yesterday I took 15 Queens’ students up to Google Deepmind for a visit.  We had a really enjoyable day out.

The purpose of the trip was to do some testing of the Deepmind interview process.  We’re going to study how the results of the Deepmind interview quiz correlate with the exam performances of our students.  Deepmind are interested in this so as to see whether they want to tune their interview process.

In order to make it worth everyone’s while the Google Deepmind team provided us with lunch, a Q&A session with Demis Hassabis, a tech talk about what’s going on in Deepmind and an all expenses paid trip to the pub!

We took 15 students along: 3 computer science, 7 maths, 5 natural sciences.  And I’m pleased to say that it was a Computer Scientist who came top in the quiz (yes, I’m very biased).  Well done Sid! He won a Nexus 9 tablet for his trouble.


Here you can see some of the pre-quiz ‘warmup’ activities.  The Deepmind office has the requisite pool, table football and table tennis tables.


This is the quiz room.  There were 15 googlers who gave up their afternoon to do the interviewing.


And we had a really great Q&A session with Demis where he answered all questions about the future of Deepmind, the future of AI, and anything else we came up with.


Computer Science Dinner

Last night was the annual Queens’ Computer Science dinner and we completely sold out of tickets for the second year in a row.

Ben and Matt did an excellent job as this year’s organisers – everything ran smoothly, and they had even arranged for some live music as we moved from the main dining hall to Old Hall after dinner (for more food).

I’d like to thank the individual alumni who sponsored the dinner and also the corporate sponsors: Palantir, Jane Street, Ocado, Coherent Graphics, and Encore.  Your generous support is what makes the dinner possible.

We were lucky this year to have Siraj Khaliq as our guest of honour.  Siraj studied Computer Science at Queens’ in 1997.  He was one of the first 300 employees at Google and then went on to do his own startup The Climate Company which was acquired by Monsanto for $1.1 billion.   Siraj gave a great talk about his experiences and had advice for those of us thinking about startups today.

One of his pieces of advice was to not try to build the ‘best’ thing when ‘good enough’ is good enough.  I think this is worth remembering – I can think of numerous occasions in research where we’ve had an idea, let it get shot down by some corner case and then seen papers from people who’ve done the same thing, not worried about these cases, but still found something interesting.

I was really pleased to see so many graduates who came back and joined us. It was interesting to hear how everyone is getting on.

Here’s a shot of a few of us at the drinks reception:

Drinks reception in the Old Senior Combination Room

Drinks reception in the Old Senior Combination Room

And here’s a picture of me with Professor Alan Mycroft and Dr Anil Madhavapeddy. Alan and Anil were chosen by the Queens’ undergrads as their favourite lecturers this year.


Thanks everyone for coming, thanks to Ben and Matt for their hard work organising, see you all next year.