Wireless networks and mobile computing can always appeal to me and make me excited. Wireless
networks have made communications between computers and mobile systems much easier. This
eliminates the need to centralize computing resources in limited area. In this case, the
optimization of network protocol as well as algorithm can greatly improve runtime efficiency.
Mobile computing, from another perspective, provides us with location flexibility and enhanced
productivity, which makes it possible to “compute” anytime and anywhere. I have a good time on
the road of networking research. In pursuit of becoming a world-class researcher and scientist, I
am writing to apply for Ph.D. study in Electrical Engineering at Yale University.
I greatly benefit from the innovative education in USTC. As a student from School of the Gifted
Young, I was required to take higher-level basic courses on math and physics with those who
major in mathematics or physics, which built me a solid foundation of basic knowledge. In addition,
I have got a good proficiency with my major, which is proved by the A* grades in all my major
courses. I always learned them wholeheartedly since I tend to work harder and show more
passion on my favorite things. My overall GPA may not stay at the very top, but it has been
growing since my first year. What’s more, I have been the leader of my class since I entered the
university and I was awarded the Outstanding Student Leadership Award during my second year,
which represents a recognition of my work. Also, joining the talent program in the School of
Information Science and Technology provided me lots of honor courses as well as academic visits
during which I got to know more about state-of-the-art techniques and projects.
As for me, research on computer and electrical engineering is fascinating. I cannot expect what
will happen next second but I always enjoy myself exploring in these areas. I would like to describe
the research as an adventure, and demonstrate my achievement and potential for advancing
research with the following experience.
For my first two years, my adventure began with projects on single-chip machine (SCM). I learned
about STM32 SCM in one class and I thought it was really interesting. During that course, I made
a couple of gadgets on SCM such as electronic thermometer, electronic inclinometer and acousticoptical
sensor light. Afterwards, I participated the USTC Electronic Design Contest with three
teammates. First we just planned to build a quadrotor. One day I came up with an idea that if I
utilized the sensor modules I had built before, more functions could be realized on the platform.
Therefore, I embedded some modules and finally finished the Mobile Multi-functional Monitoring
Platform. At last, we won the second prize. This experience cultivated my ability to innovate.
With the desire to participate in research work I applied to join my current group, led by Prof.
Xiangyang Li. After several weekly group meetings and discussions, I found my interest in mobile
computing. Considering the existing barrier between the deaf signers and normal speakers, I
proposed to develop a convenient American Sign Language recognition system to improve the
communication. First I went through the previous projects and found most tools could easily be
affected by environment or hard to take, so we chose light-weight devices like smartwatches and
smartphones, and utilized the accelerometer and gyroscope inside the smartwatch to collect data.
The data was transmitted to a smartphone. Because raw data may introduce mechanical noise, I
processed the data with Short-Time Fourier Transformation (STFT) and got the spectrogram.  However, the sensory data is insufficient to recover the 3D trajectory of sign actions directly, so
we employed the Recurrent Neural Networks with Long-Short Term Memory neurons (LSTM-RNN)
to learn the context information of sentences as well as the characteristics of each sign. To help
the prediction, I built an N-gram language model with some libraries of sign language. Finally, we
finished two papers, one (demo) of which was accepted by Mobicom’17.
Last May, I attended ACM Turing 50th Celebration Conference. Upon listening to several keynote
presentations of three Turing Award winners and joining symposiums of SIGCOMM and
SIGMOBILE, I was impressed with current advanced topics of computer technology. Meanwhile, I
was a volunteer and served as a temporary assistant of the chair of the conference, Alexander L.
Wolf. Thus I got the chance to talk with him. The professor encouraged me to do my favorite work.
He said, once someone devoted himself on some area, he would gradually find endless joy during
work. I was inspired by his sentences and promised to myself that I would try my best to be a
leader of the field that I love and commit myself to its development.
My research interest in wireless networking sparkled during my internship at the Ohio State
University, last summer. I was a visiting student under the supervision of Prof. Chunyi Peng. In the
lab, the scholars from OSU and UCLA were mainly working on the project of MobileInsight, an
extensible cellular network monitoring and analysis tool. After reading the project paper (Y. Li,
Mobicom’16), I became spellbound by the ideas and methods applied in the system. In the next
two months, I became a member of the MobileInsight team, responsible for the iOS part. Because
nobody in the group had much knowledge on iOS system, I had to learn while working. I first
jailbroke one iPhone and tested the logging function manually and programmatically for baseband
log collection. Then, I tried to migrate MI-mobile from Android to iOS. I finished cross-compiling
some libraries and dependencies such as libwireshark for iOS. After the internship at OSU, I went
to UCLA for the final work. This internship left me valuable experience on system building and
greatly improved my proficiency of coding. The process of overcoming difficulties and figuring out
solutions is really enjoyable and makes the scenery of this adventure more beautiful.
To continue my research adventure in computing wonderland, the road had led me to Yale
University, where many prominent faculty have projects that attract me greatly. By applying to
Electrical Engineering at Yale, I enthusiastically desire to work with Prof. Wenjun Hu who I have
known for her distinguished work in mobile and wireless networks. Besides, I am expecting for
working with Prof. Leandros Tassiulas who is proficient in networking and Prof. Jakub Szefer who
is working on computer architecture and security. I am also looking forward to joining the group
of Prof. Amin Karbasi. His projects on machine learning, signal processing, and communication
networks are really impressive.
I am confident that my research experience in networking and mobile computing combined with
my academic background, personal qualities, and leadership makes me well suited to pursue
further study in electrical engineering and accept the challenges in the future. Once accepted, I
intend to become a computer researcher dedicated to research and cutting-edge discoveries, with
the hope to make contributions and push the frontiers in the field that I love.