Alex Chi Z.

Hi, I’m Chi!

Systems Software Engineer @ Neon. Previously MSCS @ CMU.

Find me on:


Q: How do you pronounce your first name Chi? And your last name Zhang?
A: In the English context, people usually pronounce Chi as /tʃiː/ (like “cheese” without the “se”). Otherwise, the Mandarin pronunciation can be found in this video (2nd tone). Zhang can be simply pronounced as John.

Q: Why are you based in Pittsburgh instead of SF/SEA/NYC?
A: After completing one and a half years of study at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, I decided to work remotely from this city. The living cost is low (compared with SF/NYC), and I enjoy the peaceful and slow-paced lifestyle there.

Q: What language do you speak?
A: I speak Mandarin Chinese, English, and Shanghainese, the dialect of Chinese in Shanghai. I can also speak a little bit of Japanese. 你好 / 今朝夜到恰老酒伐 / 日本語は少し分かります / Hello!

Q: What is your favorite programming language?
A: Rust. I learned it in 2018 and have been using it since then.

Q: When did you start programming?
A: I started programming in 2009 when I was in primary school. I have several years of competitive programming experience during my junior middle school and high school years. After that I shifted my focus to systems programming and database systems. My first programming language was BASIC. The second one was C. The third one was Ruby (because RPG Maker uses that for scripting). And then, PHP, JavaScript, C++, Python, Haskell, Rust, and Go.

Q: When will you update your blog (and the write-you-a-vector-db tutorial)?
A: I’ll try to update them when I have time 🫠

Q: Are you able to provide advice for new-grads regarding a career in databases?
A: Feel free to contact me! (But I might be slow to respond.)

Q: What is the best bubble tea shop in Pittsburgh?
A: Tsaocaa. They have a shop near University of Pittsburgh and another one in Squirrel Hill. The newly-opened Wushiland also tastes great.

Q: Why 15-445/645 (the CMU database course) seems more challenging since you became a TA in 2022?
A: The course staff has been continuously improving the course projects to make them more interesting and less painful to work on. We have been removing outdated materials and adding new things from the industry. Except in the Fall 2023 semester during which I proposed too many crazy ideas, I believe the overall difficulty stays the same for the rest of the semesters.