Calling for Research Assistant at UTAR

We are looking for ONE candidate that is

  • Good in programming and mathematics
  • Willing to learn
  • Good English
  • Discipline and independent

to work on a research project that improves the future network throughput with computer accelerator. The successful candidate will be paid with RM 2,500 for 12 months (renewable to another year). Knowledge in parallel processing and coding theory are preferable, but not a must. The successful candidate is expected to register for Master of Engineering Science in Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering Science (LKCFES). LKCFES FYP-2 students are encouraged to apply.

Description of the Project Rateless erasure code is a kind of error-correction code, where the original message can be reconstructed from the fractional encoded message. The emergence of rateless erasure code promises a better network throughput, but constrained by the bottleneck in the corresponding encoding and decoding speed.

The candidate needs to improve the encoding and decoding speed of the rateless erasure code with graphical processing unit (GPU) and to apply it in network communication. Some logistic work may be required.

The team members includes Chong Zan Kai, Prof. Goi Bok Min, Prof. Ewe Hong Tat, Dr. Lai An Chow and Yap Wun She.

The interested candidates should send their resumes to Chong Zan Kai

Download the PDF here Call for RA in UTARRF (2015).

Note: The calling is closed. Thank you.

Tutorial on Sage mathematics software system / Python Programming

Dear UTAR Students,

I am giving a 3 hours tutorial on Sage on the coming Friday (23-Jan-2015), 10am-1pm at SE203 computer lab.

Sage ( is an open-source mathematics software system that is derived from Python programming language. Unlike C / C++programming , Sage enables the users to focus only on the problem solving instead of dealing with the computer resources and settings (e.g. memory architecture, pointers, variable types, brackets etc.).

Basically, the tutorial is meant for the students of UEET2533 Information Theory and Coding to kick-start their assignment. Following the common practice in teaching this subject, the tutorial will be opened to public (UTAR). Students from other courses are welcome to join as the tutorial will be general enough for all the students with little knowledge in C programming (not a must, though).

We will do the programming using the cloud service at and the slides can be found in . We will spend the first hour to learn programming in the cloud; the second hour on the syntax and control logic and the last hour on solving some simple math problems (e.g. 1+1=2).

No registration is required but do let me know if you are coming as the computer lab can only accommodate limited number of students.

Let’s have fun in programming!

Circuit Theory 2014 May – Teaching Summaries

  I start writing summaries for my daily teaching in UTAR and posted them in our dedicated Facebook group.

  I not really sure if the students will appreciate the summaries. But I do think* that they can use the summaries to recap what have been delivered in that the class while they are asleep. To me, these summaries can re-explain and re-clarify some concepts, which I have badly explained in class.

Continue reading “Circuit Theory 2014 May – Teaching Summaries”

Why 1+2 + … + n = n × (n+1) /2 ?

Still remember how to calculate the summation for 1+2+3+ … + 10 ? Well, the summation for the first ten sequence (starting from 1) is 55.

But, how do you calculate it? Pressing the sequence into calculator, one by one manually?

Fine. What if I change the question to 1+2+ …+ 1000. Probably, you will not bother to calculate this anymore.

Try to recall what you have learned in secondary school  — there is a formula!

1+2+3+ …+ n = n × (n + 1) /2

Perhaps, the math teacher had challenged you to add from 1 to 100, or to any suggested number and he could give you the answer in 5 seconds. Later, he disclosed the secret formula to you and the whole class laughing together and learned the secret formula.

So, why 1+2+3+ …+ n = n × (n + 1) /2  ?

Perhaps your math teacher just ask you memorize this secret formula (that why you have forgotten?). In fact, there are a few proofs to derive this formula. In the following, I will provide a simple example to derive the summation formula. Be noted that, this is just a simple illustration and it is NOT a complete proof.

Okay. Assuming we have 4 x 4 = 16 balls that are arranged as the following picture.


This balls topology can further be segmented to two triangles one rectangle.

So, the first triangle + the middle rectangle +right triangle balls = 16 balls. Note that we didn’t change the number of balls. We just represent 16 balls in different topology.
The left and the triangles are actually the same balls. So, they can be combined as “two triangles”.
Okay. We continue to move the second rectangle to the right. So, the right hand side becomes 4×4 – the rectangle.
Since the rectangle has 4 balls, 4 x 4 – rectangle becomes 4 x 3 (or, 3 x 4).
Now, we divide the left hand and the right hand sides by 2, and the “equation” becomes “one triangle = 4 x 3 /2”.
Note that the triangle is one ball + two balls + three balls. If we change all these balls to numbers, the equation becomes…
That is exactly 1 + 2 + … + n = n × (n + 1) / 2.
The example is taken from Joseph H. Silverman’s “A Friendly Introduction to Number Theory” 3rd Edition.

At the End of the Class

I never think I am good or have passion in teaching. But I do try to join the students in the journey in learning (though not every time success), have them enjoy the learning, try to convey something important other than the questions that may come out in the exam.

In the end of the class, I hope they have learned something good in life. I am sure they have bright future.

UEET2533 Information Theory and Coding (2014 January)

[Math is Fun] Why 0 cannot be divisor?

I remember my secondary teacher told me that 1 cannot be divided by 0.

Why 0 cannot be divisor?

“Because it is just not permitted in arithmetic”, he said.

Well. It is not permitted because it is not permitted. A kid shouldn’t ask much…

Throughout my N years of learning and teaching, I know that 0 cannot be a divisor because if it does, something will go wrong in mathematics. But how things can go wrong other than the calculator showing some error messages?

Here is a simple example.

Let say

  1 / 0 = SOMETHING,

is valid.

If so, I can multiply both left hand and right hand sides by 0.  And, it becomes

1 = 0.

Oops, something is wrong with the arithmetic. That’s why we can’t have 0 as the divisor.

Well. Perhaps you are not yet convinced and ask “how about 0 / 0 ? Since  a number divide itself always gives 1”.

Well, assuming

0 / 0 = 1,

is valid.

So, we can have a statement

2 = 2
2 = 2 x 1
2 = 2 x 0 / 0
2 = (2 x 0) / 0
2 = 0 / 0
2 = 1.

Wait. Something is wrong again. We can’t have 0/0 =1 then.

* The above examples are taken from Professor Steward’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities by Ian Steward.

Living in Cloud with Samsung Chromebook

2014-01-17 12.02.11I always like to work on my stuff wherever I am. Perhaps this is due to my role as a PhD student and also an academic staff, or I am just addicted to Internet. I have an IPad for about two years. But most of the time I just can’t do things with IPad — I need a real keyboard with bigger screen.

My friends always take me as a weirdy when I take out my Samsung Chromebook in office or coffee shop. They always curious how I going to survive with this “Internet-oriented machine”. Generally, the Chromebook is not that popular in Malaysia as compared to IOS or Android tablet. Still, I find the Chrome OS (operating system to run the Chromebook) interesting and cool and bought it second hand in a good deal.

This is my experience with Samsung Chromebook after using it for about a month.


The Samsung Chromebook is light and has about 6 hours battery life. Additionally, the Samsung Chromebook has an impressing sleep function (standby mode) — it takes about 1 second to wake up from or go into the sleep mode. Imagine that you just need to open the lid to start you work and close the lid when you decide to go. No waiting needed.

Additionally, Samsung Chromebook has a comfortable keyboard and nice touch pad. I can scroll the browser with two fingers and switching the tabs with three fingers, etc..

Simulation Software

As a PhD student, I need to work on the computer software such as Python and Sage. Basically, I can run Python in Cloud9 (only one private project per free account) and Sage on its own web app. Nonetheless, I still prefer work my coding in the real machine instead of cloud because of the data safety issue — I feel insecure to leave my research work in cloud.

PDF Annotation 

Reading research papers is a must-do activity for a PhD student. Generally, the research papers are in the PDF form. We can read the PDF with Chrome browser or Google drive viewer. However, there isn’t much choice if we want to have annotate the PDF. Both PDFZen and Crocodoc provide free PDF annotation services. Basically, PDFZen is able to retrieve the PDF from Google Drive and store it back afterwards, but it is unstable after all. Comparatively, Crocodoc does not link with Google Drive — the user needs to upload the PDF manually to the website manually and download it back to Google Drive after the annotation. I prefer Crocodoc though it is not that convenient.

Preparing Research Paper

Most PhD students prepare their research paper with Latex rather than MS Word. I prefer the ShareLatex but WriteLatex seems to have a better interface. In fact, I still prefer to prepare the research paper with Lyx, a beautiful Latex word processor but it only runs in Windows and Linux.

Office Suite

My university uses MS Word a lot in official documents. I found Zoho Doc (link-able with Google Drive) handles the MS Word much better than Google Doc and Quick Office. Most of my lecture slides are prepared with LibreOffice or MS Office. Some of my meeting records and plans are prepared in Google Doc.

Brainstorming and Note Taking

I like Evernote. It is free and upgradable for better features and capacity. I use it a lot for brainstorming ideas.

Research Meeting with Hangout

Hangout is a chatting app, something like Skype. And, it is fun. You can video call your friend with some entertaining effect in the video.


Perhaps Samsung Chromebook is just an Internet browser machine. Like Pirillo said, “I bought it for what it is, and not for what it is not“. There are still room of improvement for the apps and I am concerning on the safety of the data stored in cloud. Other than these, Chromebook is a good cool machine and I enjoy using it.