When the youth is wise, rich and strong, so will be the country; when the youth is independent, free and progressive, so will be the country, when the youth excel their European peer and stand proudly in the world, so will the country.
----China Youth by Qichao Liang
Special Visitors to Baidu
Under the winter sun, the Baidu Building located at Shangdi IT Industry Base is quite and full of energy. The sight of five excited and curious young students attracted people’s attention.
They showed great interest in Baidu key search words on the lobby LED screen before walking into the grand conference room. Words on the background board indicate that the “Tsinghua-Baidu Top Innovative Talent Program” will soon be inaugurated by Baidu and Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences, Tsinghua University.
The five boys gave a warm applause when two distinguished guests entered the room. One is Prof. Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, world-leading computer scientist, winner of the A.M. Turing Award in 2000 and the only Chinese laureate so far. He is also the founder of Tsinghua Xuetang Special Pilot CS Class (Yao Class). The other is Baidu CEO Robin Li, founder of China’s most popular search engine. “We also call him Robin,” said one of the boys.
“Yao Class students are the cleverest ones in China.” Speaking of his students, Prof. Yao is very proud. And Robin Li said he’s very confident of these young people in his remarks. The five students smiled proudly as representatives from Yao Class.
China’s Number 1 Class
“Prof. Yao is a great man. He is our role model.” said Yao Class senior student Dong Zhou. He got enrolled as the third highest-ranked winner of International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in 2008. He is also one of the first two exchange students at MIT under the Tsinghua-MIT-CUHK Research Center for Theoretical Computer Science. In October, he joined the 23rd Symposium on Operating Systems Principles (SOSP), the top conference in the field hosted by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). Among the 28 accepted papers, his has been the first one from China mainland.
There’s nothing special about Dong among Yao Class students. Almost everyone is as excellent as him. Around 30 students are enrolled each year, all gold medalists from IOI, NOI or top three in national college entrance examination. Best students, joint program with prestigious universities, and productive research in undergraduate studies…all these have brought Yao Class the fame as “Tsinghua’s Number 1 Class” and “China’s Number 1 Class” in the field of computer science. “The reason I chose Yao Class is simply because Yao Class is the best,” said junior student Zhihao Jia. He won the NOI gold medal when he was at the second year of high school and just started internship at MSRA.
IOI gold medalist Yi Wu is a little bit shy but talks eloquently. He has shown great interest in computer science from a child. “I started to join various Olympiads since junior middle school and got Tsinghua’s offer at my first high school year. Then I continued to take part in contests and won international awards. I love challenges and enjoy solving hard questions,” he said.
Youth are born to take challenges. “You won’t have the ‘usual’ homework in Yao Class. Prof. Yao may assign homework once in a couple of weeks, or even one month, which would be really difficult. ” It sounds uneasy when these top students think the questions are “really difficult”. “These questions go beyond what has been taught at the class. One has to study and understand by himself. We often discuss together and spend lots of time till we get the answers. But it deserves it as Prof. Yao would praise you and say you’re smart.”
“This time you’re going to solve questions designed by Baidu, which are related to industry without correct answers or even references. What do you think?” Dong Zhou took the answer quickly, “we love the challenges. The more difficult they are, the more interested we’d be.”
The four topics from Baidu Technology Department are structure of Internet resources, x86-based high-performance packet processing, mass data processing and its applications in query intention, image content analysis and its applications in image search, which are practical ones Baidu found in its development. Once solved, the solutions will enable internet companies to serve users in a more efficient and concrete manner. It will also facilitate the resource on large-scale service platform, so as to add value to China’s internet industry and make contributions to the society.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Zhihao Jia excitedly. “It’s really uncommon and remarkable that Baidu, as the top Chinese search engine, is willing to release its mass data and questions.”
When he knew that Baidu will have experts specialized in these areas to supervise them, open cloud platform and adopt the research results in real product and service, Zhihao Jia showed great interest, “if it were true, it’d be really great!”
When asked about their understandings of Internet and Baidu search engine, the boys laughed happily. Yi Wu took part in Baidu Star contest two years ago, while Zhihao Jian has been a big fan of Robin Li since high school. “When he founded Baidu, it was already top 3 search engine in the world. And he has shown great foresight in setting out the future development of China’s Internet. ”
Dong Zhou is more familiar with Robin, “I’ve met him three times. In my opinion, Prof. Yao is focused on academia as Robin on industry. They are highly motivated and have a lot in common. ”