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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Talking with a Physics Researcher

Just had a very happy Christmas trip to Colorado. Skiing, hiking, and Colorado is quite a nice place. And, next summer, CVPR is going to be hold there.



During the whole break, I've been talking with my uncle, who is a physics researcher in University of Colorado, Boulder. Sometimes it is hard for a Computer Science guy to talk efficiently with a physics researcher. Apparently there are several things we share similiar opinions, and, expected, a lot of different ones.

First of all, when we talking about Artificial Intelligence, even he knows this area has stucked in a bottle neck for a long time. Like a scientist, he did asked questions like, What's the biggest improvement in the last 20 years of this area? Seriously, I have no idea on how to answer it. Maybe 20 years ago, the face recognition can reach 80% accuracy while now we can get 98% accuracy. Then he said: It is all because the improvement of computation ability, or hardware improvement. At the first thought, I want to argue with him that there are a lot of software improvement but later on, after a while of thinking, I have to admit that most of the improvements come from hardware. 20 years ago, the image resolution is low and maybe it was still black and white pictures, and 20 years after, we can get high resolution images to process on. 20 years ago we cannot extract complex features in a reasonable time and now we can easily extract very complex, such as SIFT, features to process on.

Then we talked about atom computation, which he thinks is the future of computation (he studies atoms or something like that...). He think the whole bottle neck of CS is the computation ability. But, atom computation is still in theory level and it is really difficult to do real experiments to make it work ( I totally have no idea why it is difficult, but apparently it is). I said something about DNA computation which I heard from a lecture, and apparently he did not believe it. He argued that someone thinks everything in the pysical world is computation, but something like DNA manipulation is just one of normal natural biology processes.

When we talking about my research area, such as vision and language, is it real intelligence? he asked. What is real intelligence? I don't know...  Then I said that some researchers in Computer Science have already abandoned those fancy stories of old school AI and only regard machine as a kind of large scale data analyser, and I talked something about Machine Learning. Apparently, a physics researcher buys the idea of Machine Learning or Statistical Learning.

After all, he hold a strong belief that Computer Science is a part of Physics ( or every science is a part of Physics), while I argued that if you regard a physics phenomenon with input, output and central process, it is a kind of Computer...

Holidays end, new semester starts~

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