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Who am I?

In the next year, this blog will be painted with a mix of technical machine learning content and personal notes. I've spent more of my 20s thinking about my life than machine learning. I'm not good at either, but I enjoy both.

Life story

I was born in a village in China. My parents were the children of rural farmers who grew up during the Cultural Revolution. They were the first generation of their family to read and write, and also the first generation to leave the village.

Growing up, I had always been interested in art and science. In high school, I went to a public art school and studied digital animation and design for 4 years. Then, in college, I went to Waterloo to study mathematical physics. By the second year, I met a guy named TC who was clearly much smarter than me, so I decided to do something else. At that time, I learned to code through dating this girl Christine. I took Andrew Ng's machine learning course and got hooked.

Physics timelines were too long for me, so I switched to machine learning and focused my interests on social networks and understanding how humans interact with each other. In the process, I generated massive volumes of data that could be used to train models and understand human behavior. This led me to do the research I had done at NYU and then at Facebook.

I thought my dream would have been to study computational social science at Facebook, but due to the politics around online safety, the role of the data scientist at the organization, and the bloat of middle management, I decided that I didn't want to be part of the system, so I left. And joined my mentor Chris Moody and my friend Thomas Miller at Stitch Fix.

There, I spent the first 2 years working on vision-based models, fine-tuning multimodal embedding models for clothing and fashion understanding, a range of classification, retrieval, bounding box, and recommendation system problems. As I became more senior and the team grew, I started to focus more on the infrastructure and platform side of things. I built a framework called Flight, which is a framework for building and executing pipelines. It's a semantic bridge that integrates multiple systems within Stitch Fix. It provides modular operator classes for data scientists to develop and offers three levels of user experience. This really taught me what I use today to inform a lot of my thinking around building tools.


Near the end of 2020, I was diagnosed with RSI and had to take a break from work. I spent the next 6 months recovering and learning to live with the pain. I had likely worked too much and too hard, and my body was telling me to slow down. I'm still recovering, but I'm doing much better now.


What it did do, that I'm grateful for, is it got me to slow down. In particular, being the first son of the first son and also of an immigrant family, I had always felt the need to prove myself. I had always felt the need to be the best, to be the smartest, to be the most successful. And by losing my ability to work, and by proxy (although I did not lose my job), make money and be productive, I was forced to confront my own self-worth.

It was a very interesting 2 years. Between 2020 and the latter half of 2023, I would often have constant pain in both my hands that prevented me from working, working out, eating properly, and doing normal everyday things. I had to learn to live with the pain, and I had to learn to be okay with not being productive.

I really struggled for a long time with what it means to feel deserving of love. It didn't occur to me that much of my confidence and self-worth was tied to my ability to be productive.

Even now, I live with some fear that the pain will come back. I'm hesitant to work too much, and I'm hesitant to work too hard. Instead of raising money or being a founder, I've found a niche advising startups while giving myself time to still examine life and think about what it means to be a person.

Now I'm in a much better place. I'm still learning to live with the pain, but I'm also learning to be okay with not being productive. I enjoy martial arts, pottery, free diving, and just messing around on the internet.

I've also found a newfound role as a writer. Someone said that if you died and never wrote anything down, it was a wasted life. It's hyperbolic, but I understood what that meant.

So I write with no predefined purpose, but I just want to put some stuff on a page and see if it becomes something else.