François Chung, Ph.D.
Digital Annealer

Digital Annealer

Fujitsu project @Brussels, Belgium (2019). Using a digital circuit design inspired by quantum phenomena, Fujitsu’s Digital Annealer (DA) computational architecture bridges the gap to the quantum world and paves the way for much faster, more efficient solving of today’s business problems. The solution is designed to solve large-scale combinatorial optimization problems, which are unsolvable using today’s classical computers. Among the various quantum computing methods that exist in the market today, DA is categorized as an example of the annealing method, which focuses on solving combinatorial optimization problems and the achievement of successful results with rapid operational capabilities. Unlike classical computers, Digital Annealing does not require programming, simply setting parameters allows calculations to be performed.

DA solution is applicable for a wide range of use cases, across various sectors, such as:

  • Finance: investment portfolio optimization through risk diversification;
  • Pharmaceutical: molecular similarity search for drug discovery;
  • Marketing: clustering for big data utilization;
  • Logistics: route optimization for reducing traffic congestion;
  • Manufacturing: manpower management, production control scheduling.

Within the Digital Business Solutions (DBS) team, my role consists in supporting DA activities in Belgium and across EMEIA region, and includes tasks related to presales (e.g. DA solution presentation), business analysis (e.g. analyzing client’s business needs), data science (e.g.converting optimization problems into mathematical formulation) and project management (e.g. project coordination during the implementation phase).

References

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies

Coursera training, MOOC (2019). Given online by Princeton University (US), this training explains how Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies work at a technical level, and provides the conceptual foundations to engineer secure software that interacts with the Bitcoin network. Other important topics covered are how secure Bitcoins are, how anonymous Bitcoin users are, what determines the price of Bitcoins and whether cryptocurrencies can be regulated.

Week 1: Introduction to crypto and cryptocurrencies

Main topics:

  • Cryptographic hash functions;
  • Hash pointers and data structures;
  • Digital signatures;
  • Public keys as identities.

Week 2: How Bitcoin achieves decentralization

Main topics:

  • Centralization vs. decentralization;
  • Distributed consensus;
  • Consensus without identity: the blockchain;
  • Incentives and proof of work.

Week 3: Mechanics of Bitcoin

Main topics:

  • Bitcoin transactions;
  • Bitcoin scripts;
  • Bitcoin blocks;
  • Bitcoin network.

Week 4: How to store and use Bitcoins

Main topics:

  • Online wallets and exchanges;
  • Payment services;
  • Transaction fees;
  • Currency exchange markets.

Week 5: Bitcoin mining

Main topics:

  • Mining hardware;
  • Energy consumption and ecology;
  • Mining pools;
  • Mining incentives and strategies.

Week 6: Bitcoin and anonymity

Main topics:

  • How to de-anonymize Bitcoin;
  • Decentralized mixing;
  • Zerocoin and Zerocash;
  • Tor and Silk Road.

Week 7: Community, politics and regulation

Main topics:

  • Consensus in Bitcoin;
  • Bitcoin core software;
  • Governments notice Bitcoin;
  • Anti money-laundering.

Week 8: Alternative mining puzzles

Main topics:

  • ASIC resistant puzzles;
  • Proof-of-useful-work;
  • Nonoutsourceable puzzles;
  • Virtual mining.

Week 9: Bitcoin as a platform

Main topics:

  • Bitcoin as an append-only log;
  • Bitcoin as smart property;
  • Multi-party lotteries in Bitcoin;
  • Bitcoin as randomness source.

Week 10: Altcoins and the cryptocurrency ecosystem

Main topics:

  • Short history of Altcoins;
  • Interaction between Bitcoin and Altcoins;
  • Lifecycle of an Altcoin;
  • Sidechains.

Week 11: The future of Bitcoin

Main topics:

  • The blockchain as a vehicle for decentralization;
  • Blockchain integration;
  • What can we decentralize?
  • When is decentralization a good idea?

Reference

Mines 2018 – Magazine

Mines 2018 – Magazine article

Publication

François Chung; Une politique énergétique belge à multi-niveaux; Mines Revue des Ingénieurs, 499, pp. 27-29, 2018.

Abstract

Au XIXe siècle, le développement économique de la Belgique fut propulsé par le secteur énergétique grâce aux charbonnages wallons. En effet, dans la 1ère moitié du XIXe siècle, la Belgique était un des seuls pays, avec l’Angleterre, où le charbonnage était à ce point développé. À un tel point que des mines de charbon belges furent les premières entreprises industrielles à entrer en bourse à Paris. Cette époque d’abondance énergétique contraste avec la situation telle que nous la connaissons aujourd’hui : la Belgique dépend désormais de l’étranger pour ses besoins énergétiques, que ce soit pour le pétrole, le gaz naturel ou le charbon lui-même, qui représentent tous trois un peu plus de 70% de sa consommation d’énergie primaire en 2014.

References

PRINCE2 Foundation

PRINCE2 Foundation

B2B Learning training, Belgium (2018). This 3-day accredited training gives a complete introduction to the PRINCE2 project management method and prepares for the certification exam. PRINCE2 is a method for managing projects in a structured way and provides an easily tailored and scalable method for the management of all types of projects, e.g. with a management by stages, by defining roles and responsibilities, learning from experience and focusing on products.

Module 1: Introduction

Main topics:

  • Features and benefits;
  • Definition and characteristics of a project;
  • Six aspects of project performance;
  • Integrated elements of PRINCE2;
  • Customer/supplier context.

Module 2: PRINCE2 principles

Main topics:

  • Continued business justification;
  • Learn from experience;
  • Defined roles and responsibilities;
  • Manage by stages;
  • Manage by exception;
  • Focus on products;
  • Tailor to suit the project.

Module 3: PRINCE2 themes

Main topics:

  • Business case;
  • Organization;
  • Quality;
  • Plans;
  • Risk;
  • Change;
  • Progress.

Module 4: PRINCE2 processes

Main topics:

  • Starting up a project;
  • Directing a project;
  • Initiating a project;
  • Controlling a stage;
  • Managing product delivery;
  • Managing a stage boundary;
  • Closing a project.

References

Visa Claims Resolution

Visa Claims Resolution

FIS project @Brussels, Belgium (2018). It can take up to 100 days to resolve a chargeback, which means for a merchant over 3 months worrying about the disputed transaction. This is why Visa released in April 2018 its new global dispute resolution process: Visa Claims Resolution (VCR). As a consequence, disputes are now moderated by Visa’s automated tool Visa Resolve Online (VROL). Objective is to cut down on time, cost, and the number of chargebacks.

One of the main features of VCR is that invalid chargebacks are eliminated whenever possible. This means if a customer tries to initiate a chargeback when it is past the time limit, or when minimum criteria are not met, Visa will block the dispute from becoming a chargeback. Requiring this extra information from the beginning reduces unnecessary chargebacks, helps merchants understand why the chargeback occurred, and ultimately saves time for everyone involved.

Here are other important VCR features:

  • Time limit change: merchants have 30 days, instead of 45 days, to respond to a Visa chargeback;
  • Dispute workflows: new workflows are Allocation (fraud and authorization chargebacks) and Collaboration (interaction required between merchants, acquirers and issuers);
  • New reason codes: there are 4 dispute categories:
    • 10 – Fraud;
    • 11 – Authorization;
    • 12 – Processing Errors;
    • 13 – Consumer Disputes.

Within CBK product implementation teams, my role consists in discussing, clarifying and taking note of the VCR requirements expressed during on-site workshops by the clients with respect to their business processes (e.g. business, clearing, IT). These requirements are then analyzed and documented at the office, and finally validated through an agreed scope document.

References

  • Related project: CBK software.
  • Learn more:
    • VCR – Visa Claims Resolution;
    • FIS – Fidelity National Information Services Inc.
Neural networks and deep learning

Neural networks and deep learning

Coursera training, MOOC (2018). Given online by Stanford University (US), this training introduces the foundations of deep learning. Main objectives are to understand the major technology trends driving deep learning, be able to build, train, apply and implement fully connected deep neural networks, and understand their key parameters. The training aims to teach how deep learning actually works, rather than presenting only a surface-level description.

Week 1: Introduction to deep learning

Main topics:

  • What is a neural network?
  • Supervised learning with neural networks;
  • Why is deep learning taking off?

Week 2: Neural networks basics

Main topics:

  • Binary classification;
  • Logistic regression;
  • Gradient descent;
  • Derivatives with a computation graph;
  • Vectorizing logistic regression.

Week 3: Shallow neural networks

Main topics:

  • Neural network representation;
  • Computing a neural network’s output;
  • Vectorizing across multiple examples;
  • Activation functions and their derivatives;
  • Gradient descent for neural networks;
  • Random initialization.

Week 4: Deep neural networks

Main topics:

  • Multilayer neural network;
  • Forward and backward propagation;
  • Building blocks of deep neural networks;
  • Parameters vs hyperparameters.

Reference

Accounting and finance for IT professionals

Accounting and finance for IT professionals

Coursera training, MOOC (2017). Given online by the Indian School of Business (IN), this training presents the basics of financial accounting and finance. The first part focuses on the most important financial statements, financial health and performance of the company. The second part focuses on the basics of finance. The training also introduces the real options and their impact on decision making.

Week 1: Basics of financial statements

Main topics:

  • Balance sheet;
  • Assets and liabilities;
  • Shareholders’ equity;
  • Income statement and expenses;
  • Statement of cash flows.

Week 2: Financial statement analysis

Main topics:

  • Profitability ratios;
  • Activity ratios;
  • Solvency and liquidity ratios;
  • DuPont identity;
  • Limitations of ratio analysis.

Week 3: Time value of money

Main topics:

  • Ordinary annuities;
  • Effective annual rate (EAR);
  • Annuity due and perpetuities;
  • Discount rate;
  • Diversification.

Week 4: Capital budgeting

Main topics:

  • Net present value (NPV);
  • Internal rate of return (IRR);
  • Free cash flows;
  • Sensitivity analysis;
  • Uncertainties in projects.

Reference

CBK software

CBK software

FIS project @Brussels, Belgium (2017). CBK is a chargeback processing software provided by FIS, which resolves disputed transactions while minimizing fraud loss. CBK is implemented at major banks and card processing centers, offers one single interface to cover all types of exception processing problems, cutting down operational costs, ensuring real financial control and relieving users from repetitive and highly time-consuming tasks to focus on decision making.

Key benefits of CBK are:

  • One single solution for both issuer and acquirer exception processing;
  • Support of the whole chargeback cycle (e.g. retrieval requests and miscellaneous);
  • Easy direct access to the original transactions;
  • Easy user interface to all data (e.g. clearing items);
  • Fast and easy generation of reports and statistics.

More precisely, some of the main features of CBK include:

  • International, domestic and on-us dispute management;
  • Multi-currency, multi-bank and multi-platform solution;
  • Fraud reporting and deadline control;
  • EMV compliance and clearing rule validation;
  • Interfaces to card, merchant and document management systems;
  • Interfaces to accounting systems;
  • Business rule automation;
  • Modular architecture and open database system.

Within the CBK team, my tasks are related to business analysis (e.g. product presentation and meeting the client to discuss its business needs), software implementation (e.g. configuration of the solution within the client’s environment and post project support) and project management (e.g. project coordination during the software implementation phase).

References

Certified first response

Certified first response

Red Cross training, Belgium (2017). This classroom training organized by the Belgian Red Cross consolidates the first aid knowledge of the Brevet européen de premiers secours (BEPS). The training aims to provide theoretical and practical knowledge to approach rescue and first aid in case of vital and functional emergency. Role-playing scenarios help to learn how to deal with a victim (e.g. accident, malaise, heat stroke, sunstroke, unconsciousness, bleeding, burn and wound).

Module 1

Main topics:

  • Anatomical landmarks;
  • Basic rules of intervention.

Module 2

Main topics:

  • Unconsciousness;
  • Airway obstruction.

Module 3

Main topics:

  • Bleeding;
  • Wounds.

Module 4

Main topics:

  • Burns;
  • Musculoskeletal system trauma.

Module 5

Main topics:

  • Cranial and vertebral trauma;
  • Malaise.

Module 6

Main topics:

  • Poisoning;
  • Emergency box.

References

EUE 2017 - Book

EUE 2017 – Book

Publication

François Chung, Tomás Rodríguez; Multi-focal Image Segmentation, Classification and Authentication: A General Framework applied on Microscope Pollen Images; Éditions universitaires européennes (EUE), Saarbrücken, 2017; ISBN: 978-3841677907.

Abstract

In this book, we propose a general framework for multi-focal image segmentation, classification and authentication, the methodology being demonstrated on microscope pollen images. The framework is meant to be generic and based on a brute force-like approach aimed to be efficient not only on any kind, and any number, of pollen images (regardless of the pollen type), but also on any kind of multi-focal images. All stages of the framework are designed to be used in an automatic fashion. First, the optimal focus is selected using the absolute gradient method. Then, pollen grains are extracted from microscope images, followed by the automatic segmentation of their exine. A coarse-to-fine approach ensures a smooth and accurate segmentation of both structures. Finally, feature extraction and selection are performed on pollen grains using a generalized approach and the pollen classification is tested with four classifiers: Weighted Neighbor Distance, Neural Network, Decision Tree and Random Forest. The latter method, which has shown the best and more robust classification accuracy results (above 97% for any number of pollen types), is finally used for a final authentication stage.

References