Most people agree that there’s a huge difference between learning by oneself, and learning inside the classroom. The knowledge might be automatically erased from one’s mind if she refuses to do the homework. A month ago, some professor said to me in earnest, that I had better take some course rather than just auditing… I both agree and disagree.
My high school was a foreign language one, where the school paid great attention to its English education, without too much emphasise on science. Although the situation changed a lot these years, we enjoy the experience of learning advanced math, physics or computer science during our spare time. For instance, the contents of <Introduction to Algorithms> were understood by me at the age of 14, and similar things are happening to my class mates.
Then comes the undergrad study. I chose to major in math and physics but still concentrating on computer science research. This definitely thanks to my advisor at MSR Asia, but still, I learned most of the computer science materials myself. (With an exception of Advanced Algorithms by my beloved advisor Elad Verbin).
I have to say that, partially due to the limitation of educational resources in China, most of us learned to self-study since our childhood. Also the in-class materials do not satisfy our curiosity. Therefore, I come up with a great plan. In the next semester, I have made an appointment with Xiaorui Sun to form a study group to self-learn the lectures of CS364A, Algorithmic Game Theory and 6.896: Probability and Computation. We will make conference calls on every Saturday (morning in US and evening in China), to communicate at what we have learned and what have confused us. This definitely enables us to learn courses we are not accessible to.
The purpose of this post is a promise. A real man should carry out his promise. At last, wish Xiaorui get great phd offers from grad schools in the US.