Computer Science News

Tribute to Bowen Zheng

The Department of Computer Science is deeply saddened to announce the passing of Bowen Zheng, a PhD student in Machine Learning, who has died after a brave battle with cancer. Bowen had been a member of the UCL community since 2011, first completing a BSc in Chemical Engineering, an MSc in Computer Science and an MRes in Computational Statistics and Machine Learning.

Bowen’s supervisor, Dr David Barber, has written the following tribute:

Bowen showed a real passion for Computer Science, particularly in the areas of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Although he did not have the most conventional background for the MRes in Computational Statistics and Machine Learning, he tackled even the most difficult modules with ease. His impressive MRes thesis led him on to a PhD in Machine Learning the following academic year.

It was a delight to see Bowen grow in confidence and make significant contributions to the field. In the first year of his PhD, Bowen co-authored a paper on Complementary sum sampling for likelihood approximation in large scale classification, which was accepted by the International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (AISTATS), one of the major conferences in the field. The paper introduced a method to help speed up how to teach computers to understand human language.

More recently Bowen wrote a paper on Generating Sentences Using a Dynamic Canvas. This paper was accepted this year for publication in the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Conference, one of the most prestigious conferences for Artificial Intelligence. The paper introduced a new mechanism for allowing computers to create more realistic sequences of text.

Even after his diagnosis, Bowen remained optimistic throughout and he was enthusiastic about eventually continuing his research. He was very much looking forward to restarting his studies and we were very much looking forward to having him back. It's a testament to Bowen's remarkable energy and spirit that he achieved so much in such a short time. He overcame some difficulties in his academic background and published at world-leading conferences in the field. Having two papers accepted into major conferences in the very early stage of a PhD is very unusual, particularly in such a challenging field. There's no doubt that he had a very promising career as a researcher ahead of him.

Bowen was a very warm-hearted young man, always willing to lend a hand to anyone in his research group in need of support. His kindness, enthusiasm, passion for research and generosity towards others will be sorely missed. We would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones at this difficult time.



Posted 09 Apr 18 08:29