Wednesday, 3 June 2015


Weng-Fai is third generation born and bred, self-professed ‘product of our system’, Singaporean. It annoys him when people don’t clean and clear up after themselves in hawker centres and when they repeatedly say ‘actually’. Hokkaido is the best place he’s been to and he’s keen about no longer needing ‘a wallet and all those cards’ with the advent of technology like Apple Pay. He can’t think of anything he would change about SoC, not because it’s perfect, but because he ‘can live with the warts’. If he could only eat three things for the rest of his life, it would be laksa, mee rebus and wanton mee. Incidentally, Weng-Fai also volunteers his photography skills, equipment and time to capture images of you quirky SoC-ians for our school brochures and publicity materials.

Describe your research and its significance. 
Research wise, I work in the area of parallel processing, computer architecture and systems. I am currently working on approximate computing. While the computer is extremely precise, there is a cost to pay for the precision. One example that everyone is concerned with is the energy consumption of computing devices. I have worked on different techniques for improving energy consumption in the past, and recently have focused on approximate computing – how to “cheat” by being imprecise when it doesn’t matter that much. Our group has just started but results are encouraging. Why am I interested? The idea of “cheating” just intrigues me :). I hope it will contribute a small drop to the way that we use the computer, especially in a green way.

Describe your SoC experience.
SoC has been my life. Almost all of my adult years have been spent here in the company of great friends, teachers, and students. The people and the quality of thought processes that I am privileged to witness and learn from [are what I enjoy the most]. [The challenge is that] the system can be very frustrating and counter-productive at times. [But I feel that my most significant achievement is] to have helped students in trouble or achieve their dreams. It feels great to have helped – [there are always students who need help] and it comes with the job. 

Which faculty members made impressions on you? 
When I was young, I had no idea what to do with my life – until I met Professor Yuen Chung Kwong, the most important teacher in my life. He used to be the Head of Department. It was under his guidance that I embarked on the journey of a university professor. 

What is the craziest thing that you have done during your time here? 
I climbed to the rooftop of AS6 and COM1 to photograph birds and the surround. That was before they locked up the access doors.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not working? 
Photography. Especially going “birding” – shooting (photographing) birds – with my buddies.

Quick-Fire. Best movie you’ve seen this year?
Interstellar. I like the twist in the plot.

Three ultimate dinner party guests?
I rather dine with family and close friends than any “great” persons.

Singapore’s best kept secret?
Its forests. They are full of life.

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