Impact Projects 2010-11

Impact Projects 2010-11

The University of Hong Kong Algorithms Library (HKUAL)

Dr. Ho-Leung Chan

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ho-Leung Chan ( Department of Computer Science )
Telephone: 2219-4800

Project URL:

Project Objectives:

The study of algorithms concerns designing efficient computer programs with provable correctness and running time guarantee. The Department of Computer Science, HKU, has an excellent record in algorithmic research and algorithmic training for undergraduate students. Our students maintain high rankings in international programming contests and are constantly recruited by companies like Google Inc., Apple Inc., Morgan Stanley and others that require robust and high performance computing. This project aims at materializing our expertise and experience into a publicly accessible online library which

  • Provides online courses covering introductory to advanced algorithms
  • Provides verified implementations of different popular algorithms
  • Serves as a contact point for possible consultancy cooperation

Project Description:

The Department of Computer Science has published over 100 algorithmic papers in international journals and conferences since 2000, covering topics like server scheduling, text searching and biological applications. Our undergraduate students ranked top three in eight ACM Regional Programming Contests and were invited to ACM World Finals for six times. Our students have been recruited by companies like Google Inc., Apple Inc., Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and companies in Hong Kong Science Park. It is undoubtedly that the Department has accumulated much expertise in algorithmic research and training.

In this project, we will organize our expertise on algorithms into a publicly accessible website named The University of Hong Kong Algorithms Library (HKUAL). The library contains two main sections. The first section contains online courses on algorithms. We will cover topics from basic concepts like running time analysis and greedy algorithms, to advanced research results like server scheduling and text searching. The targeted audience is people with basic programming background who want to have a systematic study on algorithms. The second section contains implementations of different, and in particular, popular, algorithms. The implementations will be verified, evaluated and packaged into reusable modules that can be integrated directly into industrial projects. The implementations will be free for personal and academic use, while commercial licenses would apply for industrial use. The major targeted audience is industrial programmers.

Target Deliverables in 2010/11:

  • A publicly accessible website at
  • Online courses and verified implementations of at least forty algorithms.

Knowledge Exchange on Clean Energy and Environment

Dr. Wilton Fok

Principal Investigator: Dr. Wilton Fok ( Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering )
Telephone: 2857-8490

Project Objectives:

  1. To exchange knowledge on clean energy and environment with the general public
  2. To show case the HKU’s technologies on clean energy and environment

Project Description:

This KE project consists of 2 projects: (1) Knowledge Exchange Public Conference and (2) Book publication

(1) Knowledge Exchange Public Conference

A conference will be held in Q2 2011 for professions and academia to exchange their knowledge on clean energy and environment with the public. Guest speakers from professional bodies, mainland and overseas universities will be invited. Knowledge in the area of renewable energies, climate change projects in America and Australia, current environmental issues in China, environmental policy in Hong Kong…etc will be exchanged in the conference. A conference proceeding will be published.

(2) Book publication - Publish a book on Clean Energy and Environment

Two books on “Clean Energy and Environment” (one in English and one in Chinese) will be published. The latest technologies and researched on clean energy and environment developed in the University will be introduced in the book.

Target Deliverables in 2010/11:

  1. One public conference in Q2 2011 with conference Proceedings
  2. Contents of the public conference on the KE Web Portal
  3. English and Chinese book on Clean Energy and Environment


Easy Programming for robot control

Dr. Vincent Lau

Principal Investigator: Dr. Vincent Lau ( Department of Computer Science )
Telephone: 2857-8460

Project Objectives:

arise the interest of HK primary and secondary school students in software development and robotics technologies

Project Description:

The project is extension of KE projects in 2010, which received positive feedback and already acquired the necessary equipments (netbooks and robot kits). We will arrange seminars and workshop for 100 primary and secondary school students, mostly with no software programming experience, to learn some introductory knowledge on engineering, software and robotics.

Participants will learn about programming through a visual programming tool – Scratch, which was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the workshop, they will learn how to program the robot's facial expression and dance movement. A control panel is also created to tele-control the robot with remote video, and students will have exciting competitions. Some photos of last events:

Target Deliverables in 2010/11:

Seminars and workshops for around 100 secondary and primary students


Knowledge Exchange and competition on iPhone Apps

Dr. Vincent Tam

Principal Investigator: Dr. Vincent Tam ( Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering )
Telephone: 2859-2697

Project URL:

Project Objectives:

  • To exchange knowledge on building iPhone Apps with the general public
  • To stimulate creativity and cultivate future entrepreneurs through innovative Smartphone Apps to better support the knowledge-based economy as highly advocated by the HKSAR government.

Project Description:

Due to the popularity of iPhones and trendy consumer electronic products like iPod touch and iPad, many top universities around the globe like the MIT and Stanford are offering iPhone development courses such as the “Introduction to iPhone Application Development” [MIT] and “iPhone Application Programming” [Stanford]. Such courses are becoming popular in North America, Europe and Asia. When compared to other smartphones like the Android, iPhones and relevant products offer the major advantage of providing a more standardized hardware and application development platform whereas the Android operating system (OS) is open-source with much diversity across both hardware and software to cater for. This clearly explains why most well-known academic institutes in North America or other parts of the world prefer to offer iPhone development courses. On top of it, the App Store provides an opportunistic platform for cultivating many potential and young entrepreneurs to develop innovative and free/paid apps for downloading, and also continuously producing successful stories for entrepreneurship in different societies.

Typically, the iPhone App development skills, and relevant creativity and communication techniques required for future entrepreneur seems to be locked up in small communities as in top universities or through the Apple Developer website for technical gurus. Therefore, we propose in this Knowledge Exchange (KE) project to break down such obstacle through exchanging our knowledge and experience in building iPhone Apps with the general public, and more importantly to stimulate creativity, especially among young people who always dare to dream and explore, so as to cultivate future entrepreneurs for preparing HK into knowledge-based economy. To achieve these 2 major objectives, our KE project consists of 3 parts:

  1. Training courses/seminars provided to young people (like members of the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups (HKFYG)) and also local/international (secondary) school students;
  2. Sharing of Knowledge and Experience on iPhone App Development with the general public through the Knowledge Exchange portal;
  3. Organizing a local competition for the local tertiary and/or secondary school sectors to promote innovative Apps and more importantly cultivate the future entrepreneurs.

Target Deliverables in 2010/11:

  • A seminar will be organized in Hong Kong for exchanging knowledge on iPhone App Development.
  • Easy-to-understand and carefully customized course materials and experience reports will be posted in the KE Portal for sharing with the general public;
  • A local competition to promote the building of innovative Apps among tertiary and secondary students with finalized results announced through the KE portal, and a formal award/prize presentation ceremony to be held in September, 2011;
  • Debriefing and sharing session to share the experience gained after the training seminars/competition.
  • The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups


The Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups

Photos from the Prize Presentation Ceremony:

Photos from the Workshop:



Fostering Cultural Roots for Technological Innovations: An Initiative with Gifted Secondary School Students

Dr. Alfred C. H. Yu

Principal Investigator: Dr. Alfred C. H. Yu ( Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering )
Telephone: 2857-8482


Project Objectives:

  1. Design and deliver interactive, inquiry-driven enrichment programmes on real-world engineering technologies to foster an innovative mindset among gifted secondary school students who aspire to become part of the future driving force in Hong Kong and China’s technology R&D sector.
  2. Forge a long-term community partnership between HKU and the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE) to establish a formal knowledge-exchange channel with gifted students in Hong Kong.
  3. Gain practical insights on the cognitive styles of gifted students in grasping new technical knowledge. This will be achieved through our direct intellectual contact with them during the enrichment programmes to be organized by us.

Project Description:

This knowledge-exchange initiative is centered around the grand vision of fostering an innovative culture among Hong Kong’s youth talents. We will engage gifted secondary school students to develop deep enthusiasm in technological innovations through inviting them to attend interactive enrichment programmes that will be designed with our professional expertise in engineering design. In doing so, we hope to gradually cultivate a pool of high-caliber young talents with innovative cultural instinct to further develop themselves into entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists, or technical experts: professionals who are essential to Hong Kong and China’s quest to transform into a knowledge-based economy with globally competitive R&D capacity. In addition to being a knowledge provider, we will benefit from this initiative through gaining practical insights on the cognitive styles of gifted students. These will provide us with important empirical knowledge on the epistemology of technically-oriented disciplines, a topic which the Project Coordinator has been researching on from a practitioner’s perspective.

At this stage of planning, we have identified a few hands-on project topics that have strong potential on developing gifted students’ interest in technological innovations. For example, one of our planned topics will be on medical imaging equipments. In particular, we plan to teach students the technical basics of imaging, engage them to discuss the societal impact of imaging technology, and provide them with hands-on experience on using imaging equipments to make simulated diagnostics. We also have planned topics on developing-world technologies and electronic gadgets. These topics will be organized into a multi-day enrichment programme with “real-world engineering technologies” as the theme.

For this work, it is our intent to develop a close working relationship with HKAGE to recruit suitable gifted students who have strong aspirations to take on important roles in tomorrow’s innovation and technology developments. We have already established some connections with HKAGE since 2009 (a half-day seminar on biomedical engineering was organized for HKAGE on a volunteering basis). Through our new initiative, we hope to develop a long-term community partnership with HKAGE who can serve as a middleman between us and the gifted students. Such an arrangement can ensure that our endeavors can have far-reaching impact.

Target Deliverables in 2010/11:

Design and delivery of a multi-day hands-on enrichment programme on real-world engineering technologies. Reach agreement with HKAGE on establishing a long-term community partnership for knowledge exchange with gifted students in Hong Kong.


Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE)


Two-Day Workshop on Engineering and Healthcare


To encourage secondary school students to develop interest in technological innovations, a two-day workshop entitled “Engineering and Healthcare: From High-Tech Metropolitans to the Developing World” was organized in December 2010. The workshop was held over two consecutive Saturdays at HKU, and over 25 gifted students registered to join this occasion. It served as a knowledge exchange platform between HKU and gifted students in Hong Kong.

Organized by the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education, the workshop was delivered by Dr. Alfred Yu and four research staff members from the Biomedical Engineering Laboratory (Simon Lai, Ivan Tsang, Billy Yiu, Donald Chan). It covered a broad range of topics with emphasis on introducing the role of biomedical engineering in today’s world. Participants were given hands-on opportunities to try how ultrasound imaging and electrocardiogram monitors are being used in high-tech clinics to perform medical diagnoses. They also worked in groups to design a solar sterilization device that is intended to address basic healthcare needs in the developing world.

Through this workshop, participants were able to find out more about how various real-world biomedical engineering technologies are making an impact in the global society.

Engineering Science Workshop for Rural Primary-School Students

A half-day interactive workshop was organized to introduce rural P. 5 students to engineering science principles that have broad applications in the real world. 40 rural students living in Sha Tau Kok came to HKU on February 25, 2011 for this event. The workshop was intended to give an early inquiry-based exposure on engineering to primary-school students in Hong Kong.

The workshop was delivered by members of the Biomedical Engineering Laboratory (Simon Lai, Harry Chiu, Billy Yiu, Donald Chan, Ivan Tsang, Alfred Yu). Students were introduced to the engineering science behind MRI, and they were given first-hand opportunity to make scans on the 0.2T MRI scanner developed in-house at HKU. They also worked in groups to learn about the scientific principles of dry ice and how they can be applied to make fire extinguishers and generate rocket thrusts.