My first blog

This is my first blog, EVER! I’ve always been thinking of writing something about the work I do, sharing the knowledge I know, and of course, learning new stuff in turn. Now finally I made my decision to at least get myself started. Before I continue, I’d like to talk about my research and work first.

My research

I’m a fourth-year Phd (plan to graduate next year) in geography. Not the type of geography that you travel around the world, observing different dynamics and landforms of the Earth’s surface. That’s physical geography. Nor the type of geography that you visit places, talk to people, and read historic documents, studying the interaction between people and their surrounding circumstances. That’s cultural geography. I’m more like a computer scientist working in topics related to geography. More specifically, spatial and temporal analysis. I also have a Master’s degree in computer science, with concentration in deep learning. So my research is primarily focusing on using deep learning to predict crime patterns, both across space and time. It is challenging because when it comes to spatial and temporal analysis, you have to consider effects such as spatial autocorrelation, spatial non-stationarity, temporal dependencies, edge effects, etc. And your deep learning architecture has to properly deal with all these effects and present excellent prediction performance.

My work in the lab

Another part I’ve been doing is working as a research assistant and programmer at LSU’s Earth Scan Lab. The lab has equipped antennas to receive NASA and NOAA’s satellite data. We also subscribe to several NASA and NOAA satellite data portals which provide us with data everyday. All the data we obtain are in some form of array-oriented scientific data such as NetCDF4, HDF5, etc. We have developed a lot of scripts to process these data and create satellite image products. Most of the scripts are written in python and linux bash and csh. After I joined the lab almost three years ago, I have developed two sets of satellite image products, which are VIIRS and Landsat8. Besides that, my routine duties are to run and maintain the scripts to process the satellite data and produce images and post them onto the lab’s website.

This blog

Now, back to the subject of the blog. This blog is primarily a tech blog. I built this website to initially want to write some tech stuff that I am aware of and share with others. Then I thought why not also write something that’s happening in my life. I know it’s not a social network like Facebook or Twitter, but sometimes you just want to write something and post it. It really doesn’t matter where you post it and how many people it reaches. Anyway, it’s a place where I could share some of my thoughts that I come across, either in my research and work or in my normal life. The thought could be a concept I felt confused about, or a package I found useful and might help you deal with similar problems in the future, or just some random thoughts haunting in my head, etc. For the tech-related, I will try to clarify and articulate it with examples, codes, instructions, materials, etc. The goal is to hopefully get you with hands-on knowledge after you read through the blog article, or at least give you some concept of what it is and how you might find it possibly useful in your project. So you could utilize the same logic or technique in somewhere else or learn the caveats or warnings that I made.

The topics of the blog articles should be primarily about Python, deep learning and data mining, which is my main research area. Sometimes it may also be about remote sensing, which I work on as a research assistant in the lab. I’m not sure how often I would update it but I will try my best.

Written by Shuzhan Fan on Dec 6, 2017