Vincent Cheung

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Friday, October 06, 2006

Passing of an academic grandfather

One of my academic grandfathers passed away recently. Howard Card lost his battle with cancer. He supervised my academic father, Brendan Frey, for his Master's at the University of Manitoba.

Ordinarily, academic grandfathers are pretty distant from you, as they shouldn't be at the same institution, and you may never have the chance to meet them, but in this case, I was quite familiar with him, as he taught me Electronics in undergrad. Even back then he was winding down and reducing his activity at the university as he was battling cancer. I don't know if I ever told him that I was doing grad school with Brendan.

Funny, I also know another one of my academic grandfathers, Geoff Hinton, who was Brendan's PhD advisor when he was at the University of Toronto, and he is still in the machine learning group here, the meetings of which I ordinarily attend. Plus, I took his neural networks grad course.

Actually, I know yet another academic grandfather, Thomas Huang, who supervised Brendan during his post-doc at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. I met him at CVPR 2005 (conference on computer vision and pattern recognition) in San Diego. Coincidently enough, he was on the committee that awarded me my best paper award.

I joke that my whole grad school experience is a family affair, as I was taken care of by my academic uncle, Nebojsa Jojic, for my internship at Microsoft Research, and then another academic uncle, Ashutosh Garg, who took care of me when I did my internship at Google, where I also worked with yet another academic uncle, Nemanja Petrovic.

Talk about incest!

I don't know any academic relatives on the Kinsner side of my family.


Ola said...

What do all these academic relationships mean? Am I missing something because I am not in Canada or because I am not in grad school or is there something else?

Vince said...

I made up all the terminology, though I'm sure others have used it before.

Academic father: your thesis advisor (aka prof / supervisor / slave driver)

Academic grandfather: your thesis advisor's thesis advisor

Academic uncle/aunt: a person who had the same thesis advisor as your thesis advisor

Academic brother/sister: a person who had the same thesis advisor as you

Ola said...

Makes sense.

mimmers said...

Vince, do these ppl even WANT to be related to u? maybe u should ask first... KIDDING!!! Who WOULDN'T want to be related to you. So... where do I fit in? and don't say pet just cause my name is the same is ur cat.

Vince said...

I don't want to be related to you :p

Anonymous said...

Pity about Card. I had the pleasure of attending his last official lecture (must've been - LoVetri recorded it). He drew powerful analogies between electronic and mechanical concepts and he even ended with what I believe was Shakespeare.

Funny how it's so much easier to feel sadness at the loss of a prof I haven't seen in 4 years than to feel anything at all about someone else's happiness.

Rob (semi-engineering, all-pharmacy, soon to infect Toronto with my presence)

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