Student Spotlight: Yurong You

Yurong You

April 17, 2023

Yurong You is a doctoral candidate in computer science from Zhangzhou, Fujian Province, China. He attended Shanghai Jiao Tong University as an undergraduate and now studies optimizing the algorithms of autonomous vehicles under the guidance of Killian Q. Weinberger and Bharath Hariharan at Cornell.

What is your area of research and why is it important?

My Ph.D. research has aimed to enable autonomous vehicles to better comprehend their surroundings and accurately detect the positions of other traffic participants, which is essential for safe and efficient route planning. One of the key goals of my research has been to optimize the accuracy of the perception algorithms while keeping the sensor and labeling costs as low as possible. I find this work both intellectually stimulating, as it poses interesting machine learning research problems, and highly impactful, as it holds significant promise for advancing the field of autonomous driving.

You were named co-first place and People’s Choice Award winner in the 2023 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. Can you describe the process of condensing your research into a three-minute presentation?

I started drafting my presentation from the core research question we have been thinking about for years: how to enable the autonomous vehicles to learn from their past visits. While I was eager to cover a wide range of topics in my three-minute presentation, I soon realized that doing so could overwhelm the audience, especially those unfamiliar with our research. After discussing this with my advisor and labmates, I ultimately decided to concentrate on explaining one key project, Hindsight, and using many analogies to help the audience understand our research at a high level. I also found it incredibly useful to have a dry run with friends who weren’t familiar with the topic beforehand.

How will you take what you’ve learned from participating in the 3MT and use it in future academic and professional contexts?

I am really excited about the research I have been working on and I have been always eager to share it with my colleagues and friends. I believe that participating in the 3MT is a fantastic chance to challenge myself to explain my research to even broader audience in a clear and engaging way. The most important thing I learned from preparing for 3MT is that the best way to explain things is to stand in the audience’s shoes and use simple words! The participation of 3MT will undoubtedly shape my future presentations and give me much more confidence in explaining my research to general audience.
What are your hobbies or interests outside of your research or scholarship?

In my spare time I like playing games with friends (especially board games and Nintendo games). I also very much enjoy hiking in the state parks near Ithaca!

Why did you choose Cornell to pursue your degree?

I had the opportunity in my senior year to conduct research with Kilian and Bharath as part of an exchange program between Cornell and SJTU. Working with them was an exhilarating experience, and it’s one of the major reasons why I chose Cornell. Furthermore, my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, was also accepted to Cornell (Center for Applied Mathematics). I’m incredibly grateful that we were able to spend the past five years at Cornell, both in terms of research and personal growth.