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Two outstanding research projects clinch major Ministry of Education awards

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Left photo: Professor Wang Yu; Right photo: Professor Sam Kwong Tak-wu (far right) and his team (in the monitor, from top right, clockwise): Professor Wang Hanli, Professor Zhang Yun, Professor Zhao Tiesong, and Professor Pan Zhaoqing.

A research collaboration on geotechnical structures in hydraulic engineering and another one on video coding technology developed at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) have won major Ministry of Education awards.

The two projects took home the 2020 First Class and Second Class Awards, respectively, in the Natural Science category at the Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science and Technology).

Winning the First Class Award was the project “Uncertainty Analysis and Reliability Control of Geotechnical Structures in Hydraulic Engineering” by Professor Wang Yu of the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering and his team.

The research team focuses on the study of reliability and safety of dams and reservoirs, with particular reference to the many structures related to water conservation and hydroelectric engineering, collectively termed hydraulic structures, in mainland China.

After more than 10 years’ hard work, the team has developed quantitative and highly efficient characterisation and simulation methods for uncertainty in subsurface rocks and soils.

Also, by assessing the impact of these geotechnical uncertainties on hydraulic structures, they have established standards and design method for improving safety and reliability of those structures. Their research offers new theories and methods for uncertainty analysis and reliability control. In addition, they have provided the theoretical basis and technological support for related evaluation, design and safety control.

Five representative academic papers produced by their project have been highly cited in the Web of Science Core Collection, and the findings are highly regarded by eminent scholars around the world, winning Sloan Outstanding Paper Award from the international journal Computers and Geotechnics and the Best Paper Award from Georisk.

Members of the collaborative research team include Professor Li DianqingProfessor Cao Zijun and Professor Tang Xiaosong from Wuhan University and Professor Jiang Shuihua from Nanchang University. Professor Cao, a CityU PhD graduate supervised by Professor Wang, helped facilitate the collaboration.

“The team members have given full play to their strengths and have cooperated to achieve excellent results,” Professor Wang said. He believes many more such collaborations in the future are possible, and he said he was grateful for CityU’s support.

The Second Class Award was won by a project titled “High-efficiency Computing Theory and Method for Video Coding” conducted by Professor Sam Kwong Tak-wu, Chair Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science (CS), Professor Wang Hanli from Tongji University, Professor Pan Zhaoqing from Nanjing University of Information Science & Technology, Professor Zhang Yun from Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Professor Zhao Tiesong from Fuzhou University.

Professor Wang, Professor Pan and Professor Zhao are PhD graduates of CS, while Professor Zhang was previously a research assistant with the department. 

“CityU is committed to cultivating first-class scientific research talents. Winning the award affirms the strength of our outstanding graduates. I believe more CityU graduates will get recognised for their achievements in the future,” Professor Kwong said.

Professor Wang said he wished to express his gratitude to Professor Kwong for his thorough supervision, care and assistance.

“I would also like to thank all team members for their cooperation and contributions. Last but not least, I am grateful to CityU for providing an excellent research environment, one equipped with the necessary software and hardware and staff support,” he added. 

Video coding converts the original form into another format, which is convenient for storage and transmission via compression. The arrival of multimedia big data era means video data flow is expected to increase sharply, especially with the rise in live broadcasting, online learning, self-driving cars, and other new technologies.

After more than 10 years of extensive research, the team has contributed to the ultra-high definition video industry by developing new theories and methods for enhancing the algorithm efficiency for video coding on three key issues: optimal mode decision, sparse transformation quantisation, and motion estimation optimisation.

Published in journals included in the Science Citation Index, the team’s 59 academic papers have been cited positively by fellows of academies of science and engineering around the world as well as over 50 IEEE and Association for Computing Machinery fellows. 

The Higher Education Outstanding Scientific Research Output Awards (Science and Technology) set up by the Ministry of Education are presented to individuals and units of higher education institutions for their outstanding contributions in the areas of scientific discovery, technological invention, promotion of scientific and technological advancement, and the implementation of patented technologies.

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