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Professor Yao Xin - Excellence in Research Award Winner Say “Do What You Are Interested In."

Sep 22, 2018 Latest News

At Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), there are a group of professors who have had a significant influence in science and technology. They guide the direction of science in teaching and constantly explore the true knowledge in scientific research. In this year's SUSTech Teachers' Day Awards, Professor Yao Xin, the winner of the Excellence in Research Awards, is one of them.

Yao Xin, an alumni from School of the Gifted Young at the University of Science and Technology China (USTC), a former professor of computer science at Birmingham University, joined SUSTech in the summer of 2016 with the dream of establishing a world-class computer science and engineering department.

Professor Yao Xin has published more than 500 high-level papers in the fields of evolutionary computing and machine learning. He has been the editor-in-chief of IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation, an authoritative journal in the field of evolutionary computing, and vice-editor of seven international journals. He has been invited to give nearly 90 special presentations at international academic conferences and 35 international academic conferences. The chairman was elected IEEE Fellow in 2003. 2014-2015 years as chairman of IEEE society of computational intelligence.

During his time at SUSTech, he has published 24 papers and won the 2017 IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation Outstanding Paper Award, 2017 IEEE Computing Intelligence Society Outstanding Service Award, and received 50.90 million RMB in competitive research funding from off-campus sources. In 2017, he was invited to give four keynotes speeches at international conferences in the United States, Qatar and China.

Yao Xin cherishes the award for excellence in scientific research, which he believes is an honor given to all teachers and students in the computer department by school leaders and colleagues. He especially thanked the teachers and students of the computer department for his strong support and unremitting efforts. When asked how to do a good job in scientific research, Yao Xin believes that the most important thing is to "do what you are interested in". Yao Xin had not known his path at the time, but he was doing something interesting. He then slowly moved towards the computer sciences, a road that was unknown to him at the time.

His work experience abroad has also been a valuable asset in his life. "The postdoctoral tutor I met was a legend who was sent to Stanford by the Australian government to study. At the time of his tutor's academic vacation, he did not tell what he should do when he left, so he began to do his own research. One year later, his tutor came back and found that he had done almost the same thing. In less than three years, he had successfully graduated with his Ph.D. It is this kind of captive method that laid the foundation for his innovative consciousness and pioneering spirit in scientific research.

"My tutor later told me what to do if I wanted to do something. He never said, 'you should do this or do that'. He will introduce me to many lab resources and equipment and share it with other labs. The content of the research allowed me to find directions and get inspiration. I went to graduate along such a self-righteous path. Now I think I should have fortunate that I have never gone through a detour."

His experience working in Australia gradually transformed Yao Xin from a student to a mentor, from a follower to a leader. He became the head of the project and took students one after another to seek knowledge and explore in the road of scientific research. His work history has given him a deeper understanding of letting go. "The advantage of letting go is that students who need a lot of flexibility and many ideas have the space to let them play and maximize the potential of students." The methods of students, teaching and educating people are reflected in all aspects of his research These methods of managing students, teaching and educating people are embodied in his research and teaching.

At SUSTech, undergraduates have the opportunity to interact with these great professors who have brilliant scientific achievements. Yao Xin is also responsible for teaching of third-year undergraduate innovative experiments, fourth-grade graduate design and advanced artificial intelligence. He places special emphasis on solid mathematical foundations and computer hands-on skills in undergraduate education reforms, especially programming skills and algorithmic analysis capabilities.

When talking about university life, he has a lot of experience in the study of professional courses. "Before class, you should study. You can't just listen with your ears, learn to pre-study, and prepare for half an hour, which is very helpful for understanding." At that time, college students know that learning opportunities are hard-won, and this is the only chance to change their lives, so they work hard.

In one lecture, Yao Xin talked about ant colony algorithm, using the analogy of "like ants, each path will leave the corresponding pheromone" to summarize the essence of the algorithm; he introduced the course of evolutionary algorithms with thoughts from evolutionary biologist Sir Charles Darwin. At the beginning of his course introducing evolutionary algorithms, he asked "Since organisms can evolve, why can't algorithms evolve?" From algorithm to application, from theory to case, his side-by-side quotation always impresses students. For Yao Xin’s teaching style, the students use the words “lively and vividly” to summarize.

Yao Xin is one of many teachers at SUSTech who are working hard in the laboratory and classrooms. They are exploring the unknown at the frontiers of science and technology. They can only hope that every student in SUSTech can be like him, a youthful educator and research without regrets.


Text: Cheng Wenying Student News Agency Zhang Jiachen

Photo: Wang Xinyuan

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