Kimang Khun is an alumnus of the MSc&T Artificial Intelligence & Visual Computing from École Polytechnique.

Before following the MSc&T, he followed the "Cycle Ingénieur" Program at Ecole Polytechnique. Today, he is a PhD student at in Computer Science and Mathematics at the University of Grenoble-Alpes.

In this interview, Kimang talks about his experience at École Polytechnique, explains his career plan and gives you some advice.

Kimang Khun

Who are you?
My name is Kimang Khun, I am from Cambodia, and I graduated from the MSc&T in Artificial Intelligence & Visual Computing at Ecole Polytechnique.
Today, I am a PhD student in computer science and mathematics at the University of Grenoble-Alpes.

Why did you choose Ecole Polytechnique for your Master’s degree?
Ecole Polytechnique is the first engineering school in France.
It is well known for its multidisciplinary programs allowing students to adapt themselves in the professional world. This is what made me chose Ecole Polytechnique.

Why did you choose to pursue your studies with a PhD?
I have always been interested in research and following a PhD gives me a lot of flexibilities:
-    I am able to choose the topic of my research
-    I am able to work with the supervisors who understand me well
-    The research team that I am integrated in has many amazing researchers

What skills did you gain during your Masters degree that you are using in your PhD?
Definitely analyzing and providing high-level summarized research results.
As a PhD student, these skills are essential and used on a daily basis.

What are your best memories at Ecole Polytechnique?
I have a lot of great memories of my time spent at l’X. If I had to choose only a few, I would choose these ones:
-    The Khmer New Year’s event organized by « Binet X-Khmer» ( “Binet” means a student association held by students)
As there was Cambodian food, games and other activities – it made me feel home and I loved it. When you live abroad, even if it is just for a few months, it is always heart-warming to live a moment like that.
-    The departing ceremony for my promotion during which there was beautiful firework with emotional ambient of joys; the joys of achieving our engineering program, and sorrow; the sorrow of not wanting to get separated the friends that we have made.

-    The musical comedy show in which I was acting
I had the opportunity to be a part of a musical show organized by Binet X-Broadway and it was an amazing and very fun experience!

Which words would you choose to describe your program?
-    Multidisciplinary
-    Sportive
-    Opportunity

What is your PhD about?

The title of my Ph.D. thesis is “Indexability and learning algorithms for Markovian bandits”. Markovian bandits have been applied to many resource allocation and scheduling problems such as queuing system, congestion control, wireless communication, etc. A Markovian bandit is a dynamic system composed of several components. The current general-purpose reinforcement learning algorithms have a performance that is exponential in the number of components when used in Markovian bandits.
Hence, the goal of my project is to design reinforcement learning algorithms that exploits the Markovian bandit structure to learn one of the best solutions as fast as possible.

What are your ambitions for the future?

I want to contribute to research in computer science and technology.
Also, I would love to be a teacher one day because I can take part in making the world a better place by contributing to broadening and deepening the knowledge of our next generation so that they have, at least, the basic to solve many difficult problems in the world like climate change, social inequality, limited earth resources, etc.

What advice would you give to future students?

The schedule at l’X is “dense” but there are many opportunities after graduated from l’X!
Beside this, believe in yourself and in your choices and just do them. If you do nothing, you will get nothing.
Some days, you may doubt what you decided to go for. But, as Steve Jobs said, « You can’t connect the dots by looking forwards; you can only connect them looking backwards ».

What is the thing you are most proud of?
Pass the entrance exam to enroll in engineering program of l’X is what I am most proud of.

It opened a whole new chapter of my life in France and, especially, in the prestigious school Ecole Polytechnique.