Alex Chi

Code for fun, Make things happen

FA001: Intro to Failure

About Me, and My Life at SJTU

I’m a senior undergraduate student studying Computer Science at Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU). I’m expected to graduate in Summer 2022.

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

In my second year in SJTU, I applied for a research internship. It turned out that the whole experience was a disaster for me. For half a year I had nothing to do, except attending weekly lab meetups. I had no idea of what the team was doing, and 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During my third year in SJTU, I lost interest in most of my courses, where teachers taught outdated materials which I would never use in my career in a tedious and boring way, and our students competed for GPA in a non-sense way.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 a lot [1] [2] on how our university educates our students and made efforts to improve the current situation. After that, some of the 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 works, build exciting things and make software used by a large community.

For the past two years, I focus on building system software, especially storage systems. I built AgateDB during my internship in PingCAP, worked on TerarkDB for Zoned Namespace SSDs during my internship at ByteDance, and is now building a streaming database product at Singularity Data. Also, I love becoming part of the open-source community. I’m currently a contributor in the TiKV community, and I’m maintaining several widely-used projects in the SJTUG community. For the future, I am constantly seeking opportunities to build things that interest me, excite me, and impact people.

Updated at Sep 30, 2021