[People of UIC] Qiu Yifu: Aiming for the crown of AI

Published on 4 July 2022

Qiu Yifu is a UIC student from the Class of 2020 Computer Science and Technology Programme. He now is studying for his doctoral degree in Natural Language Processing (NLP) at the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS), led by tutors from the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge.

Qiu Yifu

"Studying NLP requires strong interest. If not, it's very likely for one to give up halfway," Qiu said during his sharing, a motto he had lived up to.

His interest in NLP emerged in his second year at UIC, when he first read about Alan Turing:

"The AI system has superior performance nowadays, whether in facial recognition or reading comprehension. However, we still know little about its cognitive abilities, and the NLP is the key to the problem as Turing Test has suggested."

Qiu organised an AI study group with his UIC classmates to better dig into the field. Every week they would share new publications and findings on AI and NLP, deepening Qiu's understanding among crashes of novel ideas and births of fresh inspirations.

Qiu with his classmates at UIC

When recalling his time at UIC, Qiu specifically mentioned his Final Year Project supervisor, UIC Associate Professor Dr Raymond Lee.

He said that with Dr Lee's support, he had accumulated a lot of reading in NLP-related areas and successfully issued two papers at global academic conferences.

"Dr Lee has taught me to cling to my passion," said Qiu. "Although AI is a very competitive field in industry and academia, I am determined to go for what I aim for."

Therefore, in his third year, Qiu decided to take the academy path to explore the core of NLP.

After graduation from UIC, he was admitted by the School of Informatics of the University of Edinburg, ranking first in the field of NLP in CSRankings (a ranking of top computer science institutions worldwide).

Qiu studies at the School of Informatics of the University of Edinburg

Qiu had studied diligently in Edinburg, and his sweats and efforts had yielded an abundant crop.

When applying for his doctoral programme, he received offers from the University of Cambridge and the University of Edinburg.

After consulting the two tutors respectively, both members of ELLIS, he chose to study Crosslingual Summarisation in ELLIS to fully utilise resources from the two parties.

Qiu told us that scientific research was a long and tiresome process, his excitement could only arise when he spotted a new idea, and the idea was proved feasible.

In the future, he hoped to continue his research in NLP and AI in academia, and to one day approach the question: Can machines be conscious?

"Although the current NLP model is still very far from general intelligence, I think it will be our last barrier to general intelligence. It is a jewel in the crown of AI," Qiu said.


Photos provided by the interviewee

Reporter: Cecilia Yu

Editor: Deen He

Updated on 4 July 2022
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