In AMSI scholarship recipient
AMSI grant recipient profile: Chau Nguyen

Chau Nguyen

The University of Western Australia

Chau Nguyen is a PhD student with a major in Computer Science in ARC Training Centre for Transforming Maintenance through Data Science and Natural-Technical Language Processing group, at The University of Western Australia. Previously, Chau had a background in finance with a bachelor’s degree, then he made a further step to technology. He worked on objects detection with affordance segmentation to answer visual questions over images when completing Master by Research degree at Edith Cowan University. Chau’s research interests are graph machine learning and representation learning. His current research combines deep learning, natural language processing and first order reasoning methodologies, to answer complex questions over knowledge graphs.

Can you give me a quick rundown about the type of mathematics you are studying and its potential impacts for the broader community?

I am studying discrete mathematics covering several topics like graph representation learning, where sources of information can be stored and connected. I treat mathematics as a language or a means of compressed communication. If someone knows the basic set of mathematical vocabulary and grammar, like learning the alphabet as a child, they can communicate with others within the community and across broader societies. Further, they can even connect the language of math to natural languages such as English or other scientific languages.

How did you get into mathematics/statistics/data science? Was there someone or something that inspired you to this field?

I had the opportunity to get to know math in early childhood, thanks to my family. There was no pressure and no obligation to study math. It all began from natural conversations with my family, by doing some basic calculations and then having fun chats and playing puzzle games using a nice mathematical book for children. This book impressed me with its empirical puzzles and real-world riddles, written in a natural language that is quite close to everyday family life.

You received a Travel Grant to attend AMSI Summer School 2023. How important was this in terms of your ability to attend, fully participate in the program and meet others studying in similar fields?

Thank you to the Travel Grant for supporting me in attending the AMSI Summer School 2023. I believe this grant was helpful in organizing my travel plans, allowing me to fully engage with the entire program, not just the academic aspect. Getting to know my peers and fellows was also interesting, and many friendships gradually developed during lunch and dinner time. The extra activities were also pleasant memories of my student life.

What was the most valuable part of the program for you?

The in-person style of interaction for two weeks, this was the key to understand Australia mathematical society better. The mathematical subject and people were both helpful.

In the long-term, what do you think are the benefits of having attended Summer School?

Having attended AMSI Summer School can help anyone to reframe their directions in mathematics and see its connections to real life via a map of the mathematics from pure, statistics, discrete to applied maths, thanks to meeting with peers from many Australia Universities. I believe any participants could benefit from this Summer School and be valued members of the cohort.

Summer School included a special Careers Day program which aims to help give students an idea of the kinds of career paths available to maths graduates in industry and private sector research areas. Were you previously aware of the types of industry opportunities available to mathematical science graduates?

After attending the Career Fair, it seems to me that career options in the mathematical science are beyond teachers or lecturers as what people normally think of that. The Career event brought a lot of job opportunities for mathematical students in both academics and industries, particularly trading, finance and risk, space science, technology, medical and health science and more.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering applying for Summer School in 2024? Should they apply and why?

Certainly, yes, if anyone is interested in mathematics. As the Summer School gives many opportunities to expand the maths knowledge via different subjects and to meet students having common interests and mathematicians in society. Applying for Summer School during the middle or the final stage of your degree can help you explore the maths world in the right time and have fun with extra outdoor activities.

Where do you want the mathematical sciences to take you? Where do you see yourself in five, ten years’ time?

Interesting question as it is always hard to predict the future. But for now, I will keep studying mathematical sciences, and realistically aim to be a computer scientist that will allow me to connect mathematics to anything I am interested in.