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Welcome to the my website! I’m Jerry, a software engineer working for Google on Google Assistant team. I graduated from Northwestern University in 2017 with a BS/MS in Computer Science supervised by Prof. Douglas Downey. I have a wide interest in using machine learning techniques to solve real world problems.

Recent Projects

Twin-GAN – Unpaired Cross-Domain Image Translation with Weight-Sharing GANs

Blog

Twin-GAN Human to Anime
Interested in Manga and Anime but do not have the energy to cosplay your favorite characters? Want to see how your little brother will look like if he were a cat? AI is here to help.

With Twin-GAN, you can create your original character simply by providing a profile picture. Find the anime character that looks just like your best friend is just one click away. And if you’re not satisfied with the result, give a sample image of your neighbor’s cat and and Twin-GAN will make you look just like her.

Twin-GAN Human to Cat

Mixed precision training of Illustration2Vec on InceptionV3

(to be updated)

Human segmentation in manga using Faster R-CNN Inception V3

(to be updated)

Contact

E-mail (preferred): jerrylijiaming (at) gmail (dot) com
Linked-in: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jerry-jiaming-li-98a69891/
Github: https://github.com/jerryli27/

Written with StackEdit.

莫言得诺贝尔奖感觉已经是很多年前的事情了。 这是我第一次读他的书,讲的是计划生育。计划生育在国外被描述成一个灭绝人性,不讲理的政策。但这本书里人的性格本来就十分的奇怪不讲理,两个不合理的事物产生冲突的时候,就产生了各种戏剧性的事情。这本书也是横跨了几十年的历史,从刚开始计划生育到比较现代的改革开放,从一帮子孩子们讲到孩子们长大成年,有些人因为计划生育而死,有些人做了计划生育的执行者,有些人赚了计划生育的钱。这些人的性格说实话都有一些扭曲,但这种扭曲本身并不会产生什么,除非有个更加奇怪的制度被加在这些人身上。我感觉蛙说的就是这样的故事。在一个数字面前,在指标面前这些人感觉都不算什么,这些人的人生因此而改变也没关系,因为对于制定指标的人来说都是“他们”的事情。我不知道莫言想说的是不是这样的,看了他其他一本书也有类似的感觉,都在讲官和民的对立,的确在非乱世时代的中国算是永恒的主题了。

外天楼

外天楼

Although I don’t know what it is trying to talk about most of the time, とにかくすごい。

— Below may contain spoilers.

The way the author connected seemingly unrelated plots together is awesome. I have no idea that they are all happening within the same universe until the very last 20%. I wish I can re-read the book more carefully to look up words and expressions I did not know.

Link

Understanding Iran

Understanding Iran

This is the first book I read about a modern middle eastern country. It gave me a completely different perspective on people in Iran.

To me, the middle east is a very foreign land. I’ve lived in the US other foreign countries for more than 7 years now. It still feels foreign at times, partially because I think I never really blended into the american culture. It’s kind of hard to say what counts as “American Culture” in the first place. Iran is different. Unlike the US, it has one unique culture, but I’m totally not familiar with it. Thus I read a book about it, when the ISIS and the whole problem of middle east terrorists versus the world become a topic that defined the year of 2017.

Iran underwent a few phases. It was an independent country for a long time, but it became under foreign influence during the 1800s. Its oil resources were sold to the Great Britain who gained huge profit. Its territories and other resources were once under the influence of Russia. Thus as a country it never felt safe with the west or with Russia.

At the same time, the country was heavily influenced by Islam – which is not a secular religion throughout the history. So when the Great Britain supported a pro-western secular ruler to the throne, it also polarized Iran. One side there were the traditional religious force who have no economic or military power but was widely supported by the “mass”. On the other side there were the ruling family who promotes a secular government, not just because they were suported by the west, but also because they do not want to divide their power with the Ayatollah and the clerics. Whenever the clerics criticized them for not being a good muslim (for not helping the poor, or for wearing western clothes etc.), the ruling family tried to suppress their criticism. In the mean time, some more well-off families start to send their kids abroad and they become westernized. Thus the whole country is split into two unequal halfs. One is the more westernized, secular, modern, wealthy citizens. The other half is more traditional poorer people. Both sides are Iranians, but their values, their beliefs, and their living areas are different.

After WWII, the US accidentally become a major player in Iran’s policy. It was the time of decolonization and cold war. Iran want to take the oil resources it leased to the Great Britain back. Great Britain says no and a conflict was about to break out. The US sided with the Great Britain to put pressure on Iran. The US made a decision to support a coup to get rid of the pro-nationalization elected prime-minister and it succeeded. Since then, the Iranians see the US as one of the colonization forces that want to tear apart Iran and get its resources. The US made that decision partially because the US was worried that Iran may come under Soviet’s infliuence. The US knew so little about Iran that it did not realize that Iranians didn’t like Russia either due to the history in 1800s. In the mean time, Iranians keep seeing European people walking in an out of their oil plants, wearing suits and ties, women in bathing suits, taking over 95% of the profit, with no respect to their country’s culture.

And in the year of 1979, some college students went into the US embassy and took hostage of all the US personales there. The secular government appeared weak and incapable of doing anything during the crisis. On the other hand, the Ayatollah, who was the spiritual leader of the country (His status in Iran is probably the same as the status of Gandhi in India), took the chance and encouraged people to start demonstrations and strikes. In the midst of this crisis, the king of Iran, Reza Shah, felt insecure and fled to the US.People saw this and further assumed that Reza Shah was under US influence all the time, so Ayatollah started the Iranian Revolution and formed the government as we know today.

I feel like after this book I understood a lot more about Iran, how the two sides of iranians felt at that time, and why Iran became so anti-western but did not fall under Soviet influence. My first roommate in high school was of Iranian descent. He and my politics teacher always talks about how the Iranian government confiscated people’s property. After I read this book, I see both sides of the story. Although I agree with neither the ideology of Reza Shah (If he has a well defined one) and with the Ayatollah, I can see the historical reasons now. I feel like I know Iran more now thanks to this book. If your impression of Iran is “A super islamic religious country where extreme Islamists are everywhere and women has not rights. Plus it is pursuing its own nuclear program just to piss the rest of the world off.”, maybe this book will not help change your opinion, but it will tell you how the modern day Iran came into being.

link

The Art of War

The Art of War by Sun Tzu

This is a book where nearly everyone knows about, or at least heard of. It’s such a classic that it is still used 2000 years after it is first wrote. I was curious why. As a Chinese, I have heard snippets of it, but I have not actually read it because Classic Chinese is hard. I read the English translation.

I kind of disliked reading the English translation because it took away the beauty of Chinese, but it also took away my bias and brought new perspectives to me. The author took a long time explaining the different possible meanings of the book, how or who wrote it, and how the book was used and referenced in different historical period of time.

The book was half a history reading and half a military strategy book. Because Sun Tzu wrote this for his king, he wanted this to be practical, so he made detailed descriptions of what to do in different situations, different terrains. He would list how many days it would take to build a chariot for example. He would list how much food to bring when going to war. Those are no longer applicable today. But the other half of the book talk about general strategies of winning a war. You have to know the enemy and know yourself. Waging a war is often less beneficial than converting the foe into friends. He also talked about how to bring discipline to the army, because without discipline the army will just be blown away like a pile of sand. He talked about why siege is usually the worst option – it takes time and it sucks away soldier’s fighting spirit, and what do you get in the end? A city with much death and disease. It’s better to eliminate the foe in the battle field rather than in a siege.

Most of those principles are kind of applicable to other things in life, like building a business. You can ask questions like: what do you need to know about your foe? What is a “siege” in business sense – something that costs time, resources, and effort but brings little in return.

Unfortunately i did not finish the book (again…), but I think I get the major points of the book. It is indeed a classical read, something that could be inspiring at times of great difficulty. If your company is on the verge of bankruptcy, just spend 30 minutes reading the Art of War. You’ll realize that first of all you won’t literally die from the potential defeat. Then you can find maybe some rays of light and hope in the despair. Imagine being responsible for the lives of a whole city, of a whole army, and suddenly whatever weight on your shoulder looks like nothing compared to that.

Link

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

Very few people write about how world class like Nike started. This book started from when Phil was a kid and ended when Nike won a key lawsuit.

Phil is a very interesting person. He would buy a one way ticket to Hawaii, surf and work there for a year, then go to Japan for fun. At this point I cannot imagine this almost hippie like man would become the founder of a billion dollar company, but looking back I can see how those characteristics helped.

He loves running so he had no difficulty coming up with ideas, because there is only one idea that he will do and there is only one he will succeed in. His coach came up with shoe designs and he went to Japan first to buy shoes from some “tiger” company. He had 0 money at that time so his coach invested 50% and the rest came from his family. He would actually make an order of 50k dollars in Japan and then fly back to find the money. Going back to his hippie-like life after college, he definitely is the kind of person that does things that he believe is correct before thinking about it.

This is a time before the internet, so his business grow simply by going to the track events and talk to potential customers. Because the shoes are so good, it worked. He had a hard time keep money flowing because he is always expanding so fast. But when he gets into trouble, he will always try every way to find a way out. When one bank refuse to lend them money, he will talk to a hundred other banks. People trusted HIM more than his company.

There were two main turning points. One is when he decided to break up with “Tiger” because they are always shipping things late. He contacted other factories to make shoes for them without letting Tiger know. He also got into some legal issues with Tiger about the right to distribute things. His cousin trusted him so much that he became the lawyer of Nike. He would even steal documents from the representative’s bag to win the court case, because he believes that Tiger has been cheating on them as well. Just imagine that the CEO of a billion dollar company trying to find the right document inside some Japanese’s bag while he went to the bathroom. It’s crazy. It sounds almost like a movie.

He also spent some time talking about how he met his wife. He was teaching at a college for a living (the shoe selling business is still a side business at that time). His wife was his student. Lol. This kind of thing would NOT happen in today’s colleges. He asked her out while he was still teaching the course. Lol.

This book is very interesting to read. You can imagine a Phil Knight alive right before you. His biggest innovation was the idea that everyone should wear running shoes. Running shoes is NOT just for runners. It should be everyone’s. It should be what people wear on weekends on the street. This idea is revolutionary. Because I grew up wearing running shoes daily although I sucked at sports, I just thought this is what people do. I have no idea that it was Phil and Nike who PERSUADED the general public that running shoes is cool to wear. People used to wear shoes we now think as “formal shoes”.

Reading this book is like travelling back to the 60s. You’ll see America and Japan 20 years after WWII and you’ll see how a multi-billion dollar company come into shape.

Link

My Life by Fidek Castro

My Life by Fidek Castro

I read this book because I was planning to go to Cuba during my last summer break after college. Cuba was probably one of the most famous American countries. It is known for being a communist country right next to the US and I wanted to know how it became like that.

The book was in chronological order and in a conversational format. It started from the Fidel’s childhood. His father is a landlord who has always been nice to people renting their land. Fidel was pretty rebellious as a kid. He forced his way out of a boring boarding “school” when he could not study the knowledge he wanted. He became kind of famous in college. He spent most of his time reading and studying politics and he was of course influenced by Marx’s writing. He talked in length about how he only sleeps for 4-5 hours per day. I feel like a lot of famous person could do that. I wish I could as well.

Anyway he got quite famous so the government found it hard to arrest him. He then developed and trained his own guerrilla group with only 20 people. He spent a lot of his time practicing gun skills. It’s kind of amazing how one can start a revolution with only 20 people. He got caught once but was spared due to the mercy of an official. After the revolution succeeded the book got quite political and full of propaganda – which is the major reason I did not finish this book. The only interesting part is how he felt angry that Cuba became like a piece to be traded between two big countries during the Cuban missile crisis. The US and the Soviets made their aggrement without Cuba getting involved so he was pretty pissed about that.

I don’t think Castro realized that he did anything wrong. In his mind all the suffering were caused by the US blockading Cuba. Cuba would do just fine if it was not blockaded. From what I’ve seen in Cuba, this was only partially true. I say partial because people’s life is controlled too much by arbitrary central government decisions. It is true because who knows what’s going to happen if US never blockaded Cuba. It wouldn’t be as poor as it is now. The poverty is indeed caused partially by the blockade. Everything they need comes from Russia, China, or Europe. A driver said to me that he was ordering car pieces from Russia which will arrive months later. Those kind of friction will definitely slow an economy down, but Cuba still considerably worse than other American countries.

Another interesting point is that Cuba is both Christian and Communist at the same time. It has its own culture that is unlike a typical communists. Unfortunately when I travel to Cuba I only see part of its culture. Some part of it is poor, where people seems to loose the incentives to work. Other parts, it is pro-western. Cuba is known for its doctors, but being a doctor is actually easy compared to say study English. Engineering is also a popular field as far as I remember. Anyway Cuba has an interesting history and most of its contemporary history is influenced by Fidel Castro. And from this book, I see through the dictator’s mind.

Amazon Link