LEONG Hon Wai

Associate Professor
Ph.D. (Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
B.Sc. (Mathematics, 1st Class Honours, University of Malaya, Malaysia)
COM1-03-17
651 62903

http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~leonghw

Research Areas

  • Algorithms & Theory
  • Computational Biology

Research Interests

  • Combinatorial Algorithms
  • Algorithms for Computational Biology
  • Algorithms for Transportation Logistics
  • Algorithms for Bioinformatics
  • Practical Solutions to Resource Allocation and Scheduling (RAS) Problems
  • VLSI CAD algorithms (Applied Research)
  • Algorithm Design in Bio-Computing

Profile

Prof. Hon Wai Leong is with the Department of Computer Science and the University Scholars' Programme (USP) at the National University of Singapore. He received the B.Sc. (Hon) degree in Mathematics from the University of Malaya, and the PhD degree in Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He joined NUS Department of Computer Science in 1987. Before joining NUS, he was Assistant Professor at UIUC Computer Science department from 1985-1987. In NUS, he held various management positions in the past, including Division Head for Computer Science and Assistant Dean for Special Programmes. He was Curriculum Chair and led the radical change to a modular system and moved the curriculum in line with ACM Curricula-91 recommendations. During his early years, he pioneered many things in NUS (and received many arrows on his back) -- first to give an "Open Book" exam, first to give a "Take-Home" exam, establishing the "practical examinations" for introductory programming courses. He was the first to employ senior undergraduates to teach tutorial and lab classes (and got many phone-calls from "upstairs"). At the time, he had to power of persuasion to get students to volunteer (and be paid) -- and they did well -- and the practice was later made official. That was in 1994. The practice is now "standard" in many departments in NUS. Prof Leong's research interest is in the design of efficient algorithms for solving computational problems from many diverse application areas including VLSI-CAD, transportation logistics, multimedia systems, and most recently, bioinformatics and computational biology. (See his research publications for more details.) In teaching, Prof. Leong strives to find simple ways to explain complicated concepts and subject matters. He specializes in nurturing creative problem solving, creative thinking, and growth mindset-change. He has taught many courses including introductory programming, data structures, algorithm design and analysis, combinatorial and graph algorithms, discrete mathematics, problem solving in computing, and creative problem solving. He teaches several highly popular short summer courses on "Computational Thinking" and "Algorithms for Community Detection in Graphs from Big Data". He also teach a popular multi-disciplinary course, UIT2201 "Computer Science and the IT Revolution", in the USP (University Scholars' Programme). He is now involved in teaching GEQ1000: "Asking Questions", a university-wide General Education module that is compulsory for all NUS freshman. He has a passion for working with and nurturing young talents. Over the past 30 years in NUS, he regularly gives outreach talks and workshops to high school students to excite them about mathematics and computer science. He mentored high school student research projects under the Science Research Programme (SRP), the Science Mentorship Programme (SMP), etc from the Ministry of Education. He started the Singapore training programme for the International Olympiad in Informatics (IOI) in 1992, and the National Olympiad in Informatics (NOI) in 1998. He had nurtured many generations of Singapore IOI teams. Since 2007, he co-organizes an annual 24-hour code-jam competition called CXA (code::XtremeApps). He chairs the Junior Category in CXA that pioneered the use of platforms like Alice, Scratch, makey-makey, and micro-bit for primary school students. He is also involved in the Maker movement in Singapore. He regularly has a booth in Maker Faire Singapore, where he does MatheMAGIC to entice young and old to discover the beauty, fun, and applicability of mathematics and computing. Prof. Leong is a member of ACM, IEEE, ISCB, and a Fellow of the Singapore Computer Society. He served on the ExCo of the Singapore Computer Society (SCS) starting in 1994. In SCS, he was involved in the SIG-Board (with Andrew Samson, Harish Pillay, Gerard Tan, Benjamin Tan and others), in organizing numerous conferences, including the big SEARCC'99 conference in Singapore. Between 2003-2007, he was Chair of the SCS IT Leaders Award Committee. In 2007, when three of his students were also serving at the same ExCo, he decided it is best to leave it to younger, more energetic people. His current passion is on spreading Computational Thinking to A&E (anyone and everyone). In NUS, he teaches the course, GET1031: "Computational Thinking" which teaches CT (no coding) to non-major students in NUS. He is also spreading CT to high school students and teachers, encouraging them to incorporate CT in their K-12 (Kindergarten to Grade-12) classes. He is also known to use origami as a creative way to illustrate algorithms. If you are interested in joining him in this "CT for K-12" mission, do contact him.

Current Projects

  • Algorithms for Metabolic Network Reconstruction
  • Algorithms for Combinatorial Problems in Container Port Operations
  • Computational Thinking for All (including K-12)

Selected Publications

  • Bingxin Lu and Hon Wai Leong, "GI-Cluster: detecting genomic islands via consensus clustering on multiple features", JBCB, accepted (Jan 2018)
    doi: 10.1142/S0219720018400103

  • FanChang Hao, Melvin Zhang, and Hon Wai Leong, "A 2-Approximation Algorithm for Sorting Signed Permutations by Reversals, Transpositions, Transreversals, and Block-Interchanges", to appear in IEEE/ACM Transactions on Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (TCBB). (preprint: here, on 29-June-2017).
    doi: 10.1109/TCBB.2017.2719681

  • Shunhao Oh, and Hon Wai Leong, "Strict Theta*: Shorter Motion Path Planning Using Taut Paths," Proc. Intl. Conf. on Automated Planning and Scheduling, (ICAPS), pp. 253-257, June 12-17, 2016, London, UK., AAAI Publications. [link]

  • Nam-Ninh Nguyen, Wanwipa Vongsangnak, BaiRong Shen, Phi-Vu Nguyen and Hon Wai Leong, "Megafiller: A Retrofitted Protein Function Predictor for Filling Gaps in Metabolic Networks," Journal of Proteomics and Bioinformatics (JPB), S9-003, Aug 2014. (e-pub: doi: 10.4172/jpb.S9-003 | online )

  • Sriganesh Srihari, Venkatesh Raman, Hon Wai Leong, Mark A. Ragan: "Evolution and Controllability of CancerNetworks: A Boolean Perspective," IEEE/ACM Trans. Comput. Biology Bioinform. TCBB, 11(1): 83-94 (2014).

  • Yu-Lun Chen, Chien-Ming Chen, Tun-Wen Pai, Hon-Wai Leong and Ket-Fah Chong. "Homologous synteny block detection based on suffix tree algorithms," JBCB, 11(6):1343004, December 2013. (e-pub: doi = 10.1142/S021972001343004X | link | )

  • Melvin Zhang and Hon Wai Leong, "BBH-LS: An Algorithm for Computing

  • Wee Kheng Leow, RuiXuan Wang, Hon Wai Leong, "3-D-2-D SpatioTemporal Registration for Sports Motion Analysis," Intl Journal of Machine Vision and Applications, 23(6), Nov 2012, pages 1177-1194. doi: 10.1007/s00138-011-0371-7

Awards & Honours

  • Fellow, Singapore Computer Society (SCS), 2009
  • Annual Teaching Excellence Award, NUS, 2009
  • Inspiring Mentor Award, NUS, 2009
  • USP Teaching Award, NUS-USP, 2008
  • Best Paper Award, APCCAS-1992
  • Best Presentation Award, ICCD-1985
  • Excellent Instructor, Spring 1985 (UIUC)

Teaching (2019/2020)

  • GET1031: Computational Thinking