Alex Chi

Code for fun, Make things happen

About Me

I am currently a master’s student at Carnegie Mellon University. I obtained my Bachelor’s degree in computer science from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

My real name is Chi Zhang. However, as the name is too common in Chinese culture, I’m generally referred to Alex Chi.

Knowing oneself is hard, and I spent two years figuring out what I enjoyed most.

In my second year at SJTU, I applied for a research internship. It turned out that the whole experience was a disaster for me. I had nothing to do for half a year except attend weekly lab meetups. I had no idea what the team was doing or what I could do. I suffered a lot, questioning myself, “Am I qualified for this position?” The next semester I quit that team. Only then did I find myself more of an engineer than a researcher.

During my third year in SJTU, I lost interest in most of my courses, where teachers tediously taught outdated materials, and our students competed for GPA in a non-sense way. It is relatively easy for me to get a high score, but I could hardly learn anything throughout the process. I criticized on how our university educates our students [1] [2] and made efforts to improve the current situation. After that, some professors took my advice and made their course more approachable and meaningful.

Luckily, after long frustration and struggling, I have a vague idea of what my future life should become: do solid work, build exciting things and make software used by a large community.

I have focused on building system software for the past three years, especially database systems. I built AgateDB during my internship in PingCAP, worked on TerarkDB for Zoned Namespace SSDs at ByteDance, and am now building a streaming database product called RisingWave at Singularity Data.

Also, I love becoming part of the open-source community. I’m currently the TiKV project’s maintainer. In addition, I maintain several widely-used projects like SJTUG mirror and SJTUThesis in the SJTUG community. Furthermore, to enable more and more students to learn about the database, I built an educational OLAP database called RisingLight with my friends.

For the future, I am constantly seeking opportunities to build things that excite me and impact people.

My profile photo

Profile Photo

Shot with iPhone 13 Pro (Front Camera) at Sea World Culture and Arts Center, Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, P.R. China