# Community Q&A – Zhaoxu Liu

Zhaoxu Liu / slandarer is a winner of the 2023 MATLAB Mini Hack contest and an active contributor to the File Exchange and Discussions. Zhaoxu’s creative Mini Hack contest entries amazed and impressed the community. His many File  Exchange submissions have high ratings and have accumulated more than 10,000 downloads. We were delighted to catch up with him and learn more about his use of MATLAB. This conversation is between Zhaoxu Liu and our own Chen Lin.

Thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview. Please tell us about yourself.

I am an undergraduate student at the Ocean University of China, majoring in Information and Computational Science. I am about to pursue a postgraduate degree in the UK.

I particularly enjoy constructing mathematical models and am keen on practical applications. Therefore, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics.

How did you start with MATLAB? What challenges do you face when using MATLAB?

I first encountered MATLAB during a series of practical courses in my freshman year at university, such as Mathematical Modeling Practice. I particularly remember when the teacher of the basic mathematical experiment course mentioned that if we could use MATLAB to design a small game, present it in class, and explain the principles, we would receive full marks for our regular grades. So, I worked hard to look up various ways to do this. A week later, I presented a Go game in class. Although some of the Go's forbidden move rules were not integrated into the code, it marked the beginning of my journey with MATLAB. After this code presentation, my classmates remembered me and started inviting me to participate in projects and competitions involving programming. During this process, I tried writing code in different fields, such as participating in a key project in Shandong Province for the classification of flow cytometer data and simulating the heat conduction of chips inside a reflow oven in the National College Student Mathematical Modeling Competition. My coding skills gradually improved through these challenges. Therefore, I would tend to say that various experiences in mathematical modeling had a significant impact on my MATLAB coding.

As for the challenges I encountered, I believe it lies in the need to learn new things in modeling,sla understand formulas, and translate them into MATLAB language.

You are a winner for the 2023 Flipbook Mini Hack contest. What motivated you to join the contest?

Initially, I only documented some convenient codes for myself on CSDN. As my followers gradually grew to tens of thousands, I decided to update the code I wrote on various platforms.

During the sharing process, I also learned from code written and shared by others. Some articles mentioned the amazing works of various experts in the previous two Mini Hack contests, which deeply impressed me. Besides sharing some self-written utility functions, I also write some dynamically interesting code. This coincides with the theme of the new Flipbook Mini Hack contest, "interesting dynamic images." Therefore, I was determined to participate in this contest.

What is the contest entry you are most proud of?

In my entries, the dynamic image rose bouquet was suggested by Josh for me to modify and submit my File Exchange file for the competition. It took a lot of effort to compress it to the required character limit, but it received a lot of comments and recognition. Additionally, particle heart 2 has been remixed a whopping 9 times, and I am proud of these two entries.

We are glad to hear that other contest participants’ amazing work inspired you to join. What other contest entry do you find most interesting?

As for the most interesting entries in the competition, I have to mention the large number of real and stunning dynamic images provided by @Tim. The impression of the dynamic image Moonrun is particularly profound. After the competition, the official MathWorks engineer @Adam Danz provided a very detailed explanation in his tweet Creating natural textures with power-law noise: clouds, terrains, and more which was extremely beneficial.

What would you like to see in the 2024 Mini Hack contest?

About the 2024 Mini Hack contest, if we continue to create animated images for the contest, I hope that participants can choose the number of frames within a given limit. This would enable creators to express a more complete narrative.

In addition, I hope that apart from the regular submission channel for works, several interesting themes can be introduced, allowing participants to submit their work separately for each theme with individual rewards. Furthermore, these themes don't necessarily have to be nouns (such as holidays or skyscrapers) but could be more abstract concepts, such as peace, stark contrast, elegance, warmth, or coldness.

I know you are a blogger in CSDN and Zhihu. What have you learned from your readers? What made you decide to participate in the MATLAB central community?

After sharing my code, many readers use it with different versions of MATLAB, providing valuable feedback to help improve my code. Additionally, in the comments section, people often mention more efficient functions or coding practices that I may not have encountered, which can further streamline and enhance my code. As I mentioned in a previous response, for a long time, I only shared code on CSDN that I found convenient for myself. After deciding to publish my code on other Chinese platforms, I spent a considerable amount of time sharing content exclusively in Chinese. During this period, MATLAB enthusiasts and users from around the world asked me about code details and usage methods. I realized that sharing this on File Exchange could help even more people. This is one of the main reasons I decided to begin translating and sharing parts of my code comments into English on the File Exchange. Of course, another crucial reason is that uploading to File Exchange allows for better version control of the code.

I noticed your plots are very appealing. What process do you use to choose the color palette?

I am someone who enjoys creating tools for myself. In terms of color selection for plotting, I have developed a 200 colormap and 2000 palettes tool to assist in color selection. Additionally, due to the extensive variety of color palettes, I have designed a color selection interface using App Designer, which aids in filtering for similar color schemes. Before creating plots, I study the details of plots and color schemes in various top-tier journals, attempting to apply these techniques.

What advice do you have for people who are new to MATLAB?

As for advice for MATLAB beginners, the most useful suggestion would be to spend time exploring the MathWorks official website. The documentation there is incredibly detailed, outlining the necessary toolboxes for each field, the functions to learn, the purpose of each function's properties, and providing ample examples, sometimes even accompanied by instructional videos. Another valuable piece of advice, which extends beyond MATLAB, is the need for continuous coding to enrich and enhance one's skills. When facing complex projects, it's beneficial to break them down into modules and implement their functionalities step by step.

What do you love to do outside of MATLAB?

Well, my hobbies are indeed quite diverse. Apart from table tennis, most of them lean towards skill-based activities, such as Chinese painting, crystallography, and origami. The inspiration for my fun code for a rose ball actually came from a rose ball I once folded in origami, while a a piece of code for a crystal heart stemmed from my experiments in crystallography.

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