Saturday, November 04, 2006

New year, new headache

It's my new academic year now and since it's my 4th year, it's pretty interesting. For once, I've begin to like what I study, and I do mean seriously like(as in love). Statistics to many may be a boring and dull subject, but hey, everyone of you out there knows that we statisticians are important!!!!

I've just got the title for my dissertation about two weeks ago and I have to admit feeling the pressure just only two weeks later. The deadline is sometime in April but there's no time to lose.

I'm thinking what can I do to help me track my progress. Well, fortunately there's this blog, so....... there's gonna be lots of academic things here. If you know what I'm writing or spot an error, please tell me...... PLEASE!!!!

My dissertation title:

Potts models, image analysis, and CFTP

CFTP stands for "Coupling from the past".

Any interested readers can use the below links for some general background on the subject.

Again, inputs are very welcomed and do drop me an email at Please if I do make an error, CORRECT ME.

General background:
Propp, J.G. and D.B. Wilson (1996). Exact sampling with coupled Markov chains and applications to statistical mechanics. Random Structures and Algorithms 9, 223-252.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Reading = Sleeping

I've found this book lying on my desk.AGAINST THE GODS - THE REMARKABLE STORY OF RISK

And I just remembered that I bought this at Heathrow Airport during my grueling 4 hours wait for my flight on my departure day back to KL. On first glance, it looked pretty interesting and I've definitely seen someone reading it before.(I think it was Sebastien who had this, right?)

One month after that very day, this book is lying on my desk, waiting for me to finish it(I'm still at page 69). Oh dear, I really hope I could finish this book although chances are slim. In fact, there are only a handful of books which I've really ever finished reading.

Which reminds me, have I ever ever finished reading my textbook? Or is there anybody out there who really reads text book just for fun? If anybody reading this happens to have done that, PLEASE PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!!

Alright, I'm gonna continue on my tortoise pace reading this book. Let's hope that I can come out with a story while reading this to post.


Monday, May 22, 2006

Education - Malaysia's only hope

Ok I may have been a bit outdated, but this piece of article had really shocked me.

What does a person have to do in order to get a government scholarship? 20A1s? And that may still not be enough for you if you take 21 subjects. Sad, but true.

It really worries me to see that students nowadays face the pressure of taking what 17 papers in their exams? Of course if they are able to cope with it, by all means, JUST DO IT.

I can still remember the time when I took my SPM, out of 10 papers, I had 8A1s,1A2 and 1B3 in Chinese language(hey I really thought I've written the best chinese essay I've ever written ok?). I still had the BALLS to apply for the JPA scholarship. Alas, they did take the initiative to inivite me to the interview, which gives me hope that I might stand a chance you know. So it turns out that on that day, they interviewed more than 1000 students and in my session alone, there were at least 20 students.

I have to say I did all I could to speak up, show that I'm really capable of taking up that scholarship. I have to say, when they tell us to discuss an issue, I really did a pretty good job at discussing it. In fact, I think I did extremely well. But ah bullocks, I should've realised the interview is only for show. All they really wanted to see was my SPM results.

Not that I was particularly disappointed by not getting the scholarship. Even without it, I'm still lucky enough that my family is able to provide me an education here in the UK, and I appreciate that a lot. It was always better off that the scholarship is given away to those who really needs it.

But this boy, 15A1s and nothing? Plus his family looks like they could really do with a scholarship. Hey Public Service Department, please review your policy. It really annoys me as a Malaysian to see that tax payers' money is not used correctly.

So as you all see, we really have an issue here. Let me address them.

SPM - The Weakness in Malaysia's Education System

Since the year we had a guy from Sungai Petani scoring 13A1s, every year this number seems to increase by at least 1. That should be the rule of thumb, which means that come 2020 we would have somebody scoring
2020-2000 + 13 = 33 A1s
Mammoth number. This guy can go teach Stephen Hawkings the rules of Physics already by all means.

For all you know, he could also be the next Prime Minister's mentor, stealing the title fro mour neighbour Singapore.

Why do I say that SPM is the weakness in Malaysia's education system?

It doesn't reflect a student's value. I must admit that with the number of students scoring straight As each year, there must be a time in the future where if you throw a stone up in the sky, it must hit the head of a person who has straight As.

We should seriously consider raising the standard of our exams. Let us return to the time when if a student is to get an A, he really deserves an A.

And also when a student earns a B or C instead of A, he is as respected. This is the fundamental of the filtering system. We have to filter out the Outstanding from the Very Good from the Good. And when I say outstanding, I mean if you score an A, you are supposed to be a genius.

Target: Improve syllabus for SPM and increase difficulty of SPM.

Education Ministry - Value STPM please

We have to push for STPM to be the new standard.In fact, judging a student based on SPM alone is too shallow in my opinion. SPM should just be a check point.

From where I'm looking, taking STPM should be encouraged in schools from now on. Just think about this, I really regret not taking STPM and chose to take A levels. The government is in the phase of increasing the amount of schools which are capable of offering Form 6 to students. This should be applauded, well done. However, we have to speed things up significantly if we want to achieve the objectives set out by the Higher Education Ministry of Malaysia.

It is a sad case for me to see that my former secondary school has been offering students bursaries just so to entice students to stay in Form 6.

We should really make it compulsory for all students who want to proceed to higher education to take STPM, even for students who wants to pursue higher education in other countries. If Singapore can do a hell of a job by making their students take their version of A-levels, I'm pretty sure we can do as good.

This of course could also be done by asking private colleges to offer STPM to students as well, like what they are doing now with A levels. It really isn't that much of a difference. If the teachers in these colleges can teach A levels, they can teach STPM as well.

So Taylor's, HELP, Inti etc, take the initiative, offer STPM courses and work hand in hand with the government to promote A levels. Hell, if things turn out to be good, you could even promote this exam to neighbour countries, just like A-levels.

Target: At least 50% of the students gain admission to foreign universities with STPM.

PSD scholarship - Essence Please

If PSD wants to improve its image as a scholarship provider, change your system. Make it so that the students earn their way into a university before you give your funding. It frustrates me to see that there was a case in the past when a student got accepted into Harvard but has no fundings.

Hello PSD, you should be funding these people who can earn their way into the most prestigious university in the world.

Otherwise, you could improve your selection criteria and make it a policy that you would base your selection from STPM results instead of SPM. From the way I look at it, scrap that interview process since it's really redundant and you don't really look like you want to know anymore about your candidates anyway.

If you couldn't support anymore students with good credentials overseas, then offer them a scholarship to pursue education locally. These people apply because they really need the scholarship, so please don't disappoint them.

Target:Please don't let students with 15A1s left out la for goodness sake.

Higher Education Ministry - Do the right thing

The higher education ministry should really step down for a lousy job done. I'm not saying this because the rank of UM dropped etc, that really is of no importance to the mahasiswas.

I'm saying that you should in fact push for freedom of speech and improving the quality of our universities. Provide the correct infrastructures, like provide UUM with proper internet service. The last time I went to UUM to visit a friend, he told me that their internet is really slow. Much like letting 50 computers sharing a 56Kbps modem.

These are places where our future leaders nurture themselves. They ought to be given the space to express their ideas, a place where if they can dream, they can achieve that dream. They should be left alone by politicians afraid of students protesting against them.

Hey, if you run the country like you should, everybody is happy. I am an advocate of peaceful strikes and protest. Note that when I mean peaceful, I mean a written document stating what we want to be done, be given full media access and permission to walk around campus holding a banner.

JUST WITHIN THE CAMPUS. If you choose to ignore us, fine with me, at least let the students voice out.

Target: Make universities good enough so that corporations look to them for advice. Then you know it's a job well done.

Related Blogs:

1. Scholarship Heartbreaks
2. Good but not good enough?