Natural audio-to-video generation with representation learning


This project is dedicated to investigating the difficult audio-to-video generation with representation learning. Audio-to-video generation is an interesting problem that has abundant application across several industrial fields. Here, we propose a novel training flow consisting of pre-trained models (StyleGAN3, Wav2Vec2, MTCNN networks), newly trained models (variational autoencoders and transformers), and an adversarial learning algorithm. To the best of the author’s knowledge, this is the first implementation of audio-to-video generation using a pre-trained StyleGAN3. The input is a speech audio sequence and an image of a face. Our model will learn to “animate” the face by predicting facial expressions and lip movements. We find that the latent code of our generative model can be encoded 16-fold into a 96-dim vector that retains the information of the talking face. By using this method, audio-to-video generation can be realized without training any generative models, and only latent codes should be predicted from audio. This minimizes our requirement for dataset size and training time. (The reconstructed videos can be found here.)

Full Report

Multi-Agent Reinforcement Learning for “The Resistance”


We trained proximal policy optimization (PPO) agents to play the hidden role game The Resistance. Learning whether or not other actors are behaving in your interest, or only pretending to, is a problem widely unstudied in reinforcement learning. We allow the agents to create and develop their own form of communication which allows them to adversarially influence the actions of other agents. We develop several baseline strategies and metrics to evaluate and quantify our training results. A total of 10 models are constructed and used for completing different tasks during the game by two competing teams. We found that the PPO agents can play competitively against our baseline strategies, without training on these baselines. This means the agents not only learn to play against their non-stationary counterparts but learn generic strategies to play against unknown players. Our experimental results show that the agents developed communication in order to identify each other’s roles, resulting in an increase in their win rates. Therefore, we’ve shown that emergent communication is helpful for cooperative and adversarial multi-agent reinforcement learning when there are partially observable states.

Figure 1. The training cycle.

Figure 2. Algorithmic flow in one round.

Full Report

Simple Games and Applications

I started to self-learn programming from the age of 13. Back then, I used Visual Basic for designing simple games and applications. Having the ability to create, I opened a world full of amazement. Not only did more and more ideas came to me, I actually relatively improved my logic thinking and mathematics. I started to use C language and app designing for developing projects from the age of 15. Here are some of the simple games and programs which I have made in my leisure time.


A simple game at my initial stages of programming using Visual Basic.
Read More

Mini Projects from School

It’s not just about the grades. Mostly, it’s about the inspiration, the potential of knowledge that deeply impresses. I have individually and cooperatively created several projects in school. Here are some mini projects that have once motivated me to keep on exploring and discovering.


Integrated Circuit Design

Biochemistry and Chemical Engineering

CAD Drawing and Plotting

Website Production

HSNU Graduation Ceremony Website

After being approved for entering my department (NTU BIME) in university, I joined the graduation ceremony group in my high school (HSNU).

I act as one leader among the three leaders in the network group. The objective of this group is to construct the graduation ceremony website.

My main responsibility is to collect information from other groups (e.g. public relationship group, ceremony group…) and to organize them, where the other two leaders use these data to construct the website.

In my view, this is by far the website with the most abundant resources and exquisite design among all other graduation ceremony websites in our high school.

Here’s a link to the website:

Figure 1. A snapshot of the graduation ceremony website.

Intelligent Bio-Sensing Lab Website

After graduating from graduate school in NTU, I worked as research assistant in my lab (intelligent bio-sensing lab, IBSLAB) led by professor Lin-Chi-Chen. During this period, I constructed the lab website using Wix.

Here’s a link to the website:

Figure 2. A snapshot of intelligent bio-sensing lab website.

Personal Website

Having the experience of constructing the two previous public websites and developing some website-based control systems (e.g. Automated Microfluidic Controlling Platform, Real-time Impedance Detection Systems), I started to write this personal website using the previous experience and knowledge I have obtained.

For construction of the website, I bought the” using Namecheap. Then, I used SiteGround as the web hosting platform, and connected the server to my domain. At last, I used WordPress as the content management system for my website.

For webpage design, HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP are used as the coding language; jQuery is used for Ajax calling; Masonry is used for grid layout display; MathJax is used for equation expressions; and other additional plugins are installed for realizing several features.

Figure 3. A snapshot of my personal website.

Surface Plasmon Resonance Platform

The approach for using surface plasmon resonance (SPR) as an optical method for detection of biomolecules with low concentration in real-time has been widely investigated. However, such instruments are highly expensive and bulky, hindering development for portable devices. After discussing with my professor Dr. Lin-Chi Chen about this project, I developed a simple and preliminary platform that can measure the refractive index change of a liquid using SPR.

Figure 1. Prism-based SPR detection

The prism-based SPR system (Fig. 1) is widely used in practical applications, including today’s instruments. Here, A p-polarized light source is refracted into a prism, totally internal reflected (TIR) on another side, and refracted out at another, being received by a light detector. Usually a fluid channel with a special treated surface (e.g. glass with evaporated Au) is placed on the top where the TIR effect happens.

Figure 2. Attenuated total reflection phenomenon (ATR).

When the light beam enters at a certain incidence angle, surface plasmon polaritons can be excited in a resonant manner at the TIR interface. This means there would be attenuated total reflectance (ATR) phenomenon at that angle, and a decrease of light intensity would exist (Fig. 2). This incidence angle is called the SPR angle, and has a linear relationship with the reflection index of the fluid-glass interface.

Hardware Design

Figure 3. Materials used in this project.

The materials used for constructing this platform are in Fig. 3. As the light emits from the laser, it passes through the convex lens to change its direction, ending up in a slightly diverging beam, entering the prism and hitting the chip surface at different incidence angles (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. Simulation of red light from a laser passing through a convex lens, a prism, and through a microfluidic chip.

The range of incidence angle (Θ) is calculated so that 62.294° < Θ < 72.203°, which at some value within this range there exists the SPR angle of water. Fig. 5 shows a few important specifications for the setup.

Figure 5. Specifications for materials using in this project.

Here’s a clip of the SPR phenomenon appearing at the upper region of the reflected light after an Au-evaporated glass slide is dropped with deionized water.

For detection of light signal, a photoresistor is fixed on a linear gear of the light detector holder. The position of the gear is controlled by a stepper motor fixed on the holder (Fig. 6). The totally internal reflected light will be captured by the moving photoresistor for recording light intensity at a certain position.

Figure 6. Light detection module consisting of a photoresistor, a linear gear, a stepper motor, and a 3D-printed holder.

Program Control and User Interface

Arduino is used for controlling the stepper motor and reading the output of the photoresistor. Prior to reading, the resistances are converted to voltage signals using a simple circuit. For developing a program with visual UI, processing language is used for communicating with Arduino. Fig. 7 shows the program consisting of a signal display panel and several buttons for different functions.

[Source code for SPR platform control program]

Figure 7. User interface for SPR platform.

Here’s a demonstration of using the combined UI and hardware platform:

The program will record light intensity, and convert it to a signal with a range between 0 and 1000. In order to calculate the differential signal (the signal with SPR phenomenon minus the signal without SPR phenomenon), the program will average the signal being detected at a certain position within every cycle. By deleting the two averaged signals, this differential signal can be calculated. The differential can indicate the position that the ATR occurred.

Below is another clip for SPR detection using a microfluidic chip, the ATR can be clearly detected by the platform.

The direction of the speed of the linear gear will also have an impact on the signal. In Fig. 8, a smoother SPR curve (average difference of ΔV) is calculated by averaging the data obtained by the clockwise and counter-clockwise direction.

Figure 8. SPR Differential signal of light intensity converted to voltage including clockwise and counter-clockwise directions.

The total cost is a few thousand NTD, which is very low compared with commercial instruments (~1 million NTD). In the future, I hope that this platform can be reinforced for detecting bio-samples in real-time.

Real-time Impedance Detection Systems


The minimization of instruments and relevant devices for data acquisition is a major demand for portable bio-sensing systems. In the following paragraphs, the development of real-time impedance detection systems is detailed, where generations α and β are developed. Generation α serves as the proof-of-concept for the construction of a detection system that can measure impedance from 0.1 to 10000 Hz. Generation β improves several features of generation α, such as the applied frequency range, measured impedance range, detection time, and detection repeatability. In generation β, a website is constructed for controlling the system and acquiring real-time data so that any remote user can have access using smart devices without the need for installing any apps or services. This is particularly useful regarding portability and accessibility, which is highly competitive for integrated biosensors concerning the internet of things (IoT) technologies.

Scheme for Generation α

The general scheme for this generation is depicted in Fig. 1. A function generator is used for producing sine voltage waves across a symmetric electrode system, then a NI DAQ device (USB-6210) is used for collecting voltage signals from the measurement circuit. The signal is processed and sent to a computer for data analysis and plotting.

Figure 1. General scheme for real-time impedimetric detection system (generation α).

Data Analysis using LabVIEW for Generation α

The block diagram and front panel of the LabVIEW data analysis procedure are depicted in Fig. 2. Two signals are acquired by the DAQ device: the input voltage and the amplified current (measured in voltages) of the electrode chip. When the amplification ratio of the current is known, the current can be calculated by dividing the measured voltage with the known ratio. The frequency is calculated using Fourier transform of the signals. The absolute impedance (|Z|) is calculated by dividing the amplitude of the input voltage by the current. The phase angle can be found by calculating the phase difference between the two signals. These two values are plotted on the graph in the front panel and can be saved as comma-separated values (.csv) that can be used for data fitting.

Figure 2. (a) Control panel and (b) block diagram for impedance measurement of Z_GENα using DAQ device and LabVIEW software.

Figure 3. A photo of the whole system of generation α.

The clip below shows real-time impedance measurement using generation α. A microfluidic interdigitated array (IDA) chip (wg/we = 25/100μm, where we is the electrode bandwidth and wg is the gap width) is used. The flow rate is 0.1μL/s and the applied frequency is 100Hz.

[Impedance Measurement .vi file for generation α]

Scheme for Generation β

A major difference between the detection of phase angle of generation β and that of generation α is that the former always output a sinusoidal wave from a phase angle of 0°, while the latter outputs from an arbitrary angle. By recording the time of the start of detection, the phase angle can be obtained by only measuring the output current wave. For instance, if the peak of a current wave is detected at the start of detection, then it can be deduced that the phase angle is -90° (Fig. 4).

Figure 4. A current wave of phase angle -90°.

In this generation, a miniaturized, portable, real-time, low-cost and remote commandable (website-based) system is developed. The target set for it has a whole list of goals in addition to the main features of a typical impedance analyzer: miniaturization, portable, real-time, low-cost and user-friendly. For the hardware, a Raspberry Pi 3 b+ model, an impedance measurement circuit, and a microelectrode sensor chip are integrated. The scheme of generation β is illustrated in Fig. 5.

Figure 5. General scheme for real-time impedimetric detection system (generation β).

Impedance Measurement Circuit Design

For generation β, several IC chips are integrated on a universal PCB board for achieving the functions of the function generator and the DAQ device in generation α. The AD9833 waveform generator is used for the production of sinusoidal voltage waves. TL074 op-amps are used for transformation of electric signals. The fast precision op-amp OP42 is used for amplification of the small signal current running through the sensor chip. A voltage stabilizer module made from UA741 op-amp is used for providing stable voltage signal. The analog-to-digital converter AD7822 is used for signal acquisition, and sending digital signals to Raspberry Pi (Fig. 6).

Figure 6. Circuit schematic for generation β.

Data Processing

The raw signal obtained by the ADC is an 8-bit resolution data ranging from 0 to 255 at a rate of 1MS/s (mega samples per second). Due to the relatively fast sampling speed by Raspberry Pi and some imperfections within the circuitry, there may appear to be some defects or noisy signal in the acquired data. Thus, a strategy for data processing before the calculation of |Z| and phase of the measured system is designed. The general concept is depicted in Fig. 7 for a raw signal with a linearly transformed value between 0 and 1.

Figure 7. Strategy for impedance range detection and data processing for generation β.

First, leading and ending consecutive zeros are trimmed, and the data is shifted to a start of a non-zero value. Second, values outside n standard deviations from the average of m data points are removed where n and m are arbitrarily defined constants for a specific sampling frequency. Third, the removed values are linearly bridged between non-removed values to form continuous data points. Fourth, smoothing is performed by averaging k data points to form a new value. |Z| is found by calculating the standard deviation of the overall data which equals the zero-mean root-mean square (RMS) of the signal and is proportional to the amplitude with a relationship of . The phase is obtained by first calculating the average of the remainder of the time (μs) of a data point, which is larger than or equals the mean and its previous data point is smaller than the mean, divided by the number of data points within a repeating sine wave cycle, then linearly transforming it to a value between 0 and 360 degrees.

Website Server

For portable devices dedicated to point-of-care applications, a miniaturized device must be set up that contains user-friendly interfaces and well-designed data display graphics. A smart phone might come in handy when it comes to the such integration. Applications using smart phone for electrochemical on-chip detection of biomarkers are presented and published every year. For the above reasons, a website platform for the user interface of generation β is set as a target for its improvement compared with generation α, which can be accessed using local networking on either a personal computer, a smart phone, a pad … etc. The overall structure is shown in Fig. 8.

Figure 8. Structure of the web server of generation β.

Results for Generation β

The photograph of generation β is shown in Fig. 9. The dimension is 22(L)×10(W)×6(H) cm3, which makes it a portable system. The Raspberry Pi controls the circuitry by sending voltage signals towards the IC chips. The sinusoidal current passes through the sensor chip, gets amplified, then is sampled by the ADC. The transformed digital values are read by the Raspberry Pi and being processed. At last, impedance values are plotted on the website.

Figure 9. Photograph of generation β.

The content below is a clip for demonstration of using the website interface of generation β. The website shows |Z| vs f, phase vs f, Im(Z) vs Re(Z), Re(Z) vs f and –Im(Z) vs f at the same time. The collected data can be saved to a CSV file for further analysis.

A mobile power supply can be simultaneously used as the power supply for the circuitry and Raspberry Pi (Fig. 10), and smartphone-controlled impedance detection can also be achieved (also shown in clip below).

Figure 10. Generation β powered by a power bank.

Microfluidic Impedimetric Detection using Interdigitated Au Electrode Chip

The repeatability of electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) detection in a microfluidic interdigitated array (IDA) chip system is tested using generation β as the measuring system. In Fig. 11, it can be seen that a fairly stable measurement of |Z| can be achieved within a frequency range of 1 ~ 105Hz, and an absolute impedance range of about 0.1 ~ 30kΩ can be detected. However, at high frequencies, the phase angle does not have a reasonable and repeatable value. This reason is due to the larger noise of sampling values at high frequencies. A red line is drawn at 90° on the phase vs f plot. Normally, phase angles wouldn’t exceed this value because that would give rise to a negative Re(Z), and does not correspond to any familiar electrochemical mechanism. Such sampling errors and data processing are needed to be improved.

Figure 11. (a) |Z| vs f, (b) phase vs f, (c) Im(Z) vs Re(Z), (d) Re(Z) vs f and (e) Im(Z) vs f for single EIS detection of IDA chip at 0μL/s flow speed using generation β. The channel width is 0.5mm. Vamp = 50mV. Running buffer: 5mM Fe(CN)63-/4-in PBS.

Electrochemical and Biological Simulation for Microfluidics

My research as a graduate student focuses on biosensing applications using electrochemical impedimetric methods. Unlike mechatronic systems, these applications consider a dynamic environment at such a microscale, it is quite hard to perceive what is really going on when we merely recognize the change of physical property. I usually ask myself: What is the underlying mechanism? Tucked away from the limit of horizon of the human eye, we often see nothing happening when doing these experiments.

That is why simulation is so important! In this project, I performed 3 simulation tasks in order to visualize the changes of important physical properties for my study (impedimetric microfluidic chip for biosensing) using COMSOL Multiphysics.

The tasks are:

  1. Velocity field simulation inside microfluidic channel.
  2. Real-time molecule immobilization on gold surface.
  3. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) simulation.

The result of task 1 supports the hypotheses of task 2 and 3.

Physical Environment Setting

The simulation environment is set as the interior of a microfluidic channel with gold microelectrodes. See the film below for visualization.

The chip is fabricated using soft lithography and photolithography. The microfluidic channel has a width of 1mm and a height of 100μm at the center. The gold microelectrodes form a pair for square pads (300×300μm) at the center of the channel (Fig. 1).

Figure 1. Microfabrication process, dimensions, and microscopic view of the microfluidic electrode chip used in this project.

Velocity Field Simulation Inside Microfluidic Channel

The objective of this task is to simulate the fluid velocity field inside the channel on a sliced plane. Due to the fact that 3D simulation is time-consuming, if a 3D environment can be reduced to a 2D environment, then a large amount of time can be saved. By performing this task, it can be seen if dimension reduction modeling of task 2 and 3 are feasible.

Considering the physical nature of the microfluidic channel, a laminar flow model is implemented along with the Navier-Stokes equation:

$$\rho(\textbf{u}\cdot\nabla)\textbf{u}=\nabla\cdot[-pI+\mu(\nabla \textbf{u}+(\nabla \textbf{u})^T)]+F$$

, which means a balance between inertia (\(\rho(\textbf{u}\cdot\nabla)\textbf{u}\)), pressure (\(-pI\)), viscous (\(\mu(\nabla \textbf{u}+(\nabla \textbf{u})^T)\)) and external (\(F\)) forces. A stationary study is implemented (\(\rho \nabla \cdot \textbf{u}=0\)), and water is set as the fluid.

Fig. 2 shows the 3D velocity field inside the channel. A bigger arrow indicates a larger velocity magnitude. The reason that the velocity is faster at the center is because of the lower channel height.

Figure 2. 3D velocity field inside microfluidic channel.

Fig. 3 shows animated 2D velocity fields of sliced planes inside the channel. Due to laminar flow, velocities near the boundary get close to zero. However, the steady-state velocity reaches a constant value away from the boundary.

Figure 3. 2D velocity fields for xy and zy sliced planes.

A top view of the velocity field and the velocity at different x positions are shown in Fig. 4. It can be concluded that at the center of the channel where the microelectrodes lie, the fluid velocity stays constant, and subsequent tasks can be carried out using 2D models.

Figure 4. Top-view and x position-dependent velocity magnitude of fluid.

Real-time Molecule Immobilization on Gold Surface.

For microfluidic electrochemical biosensors, it is quite common that immobilization of sensing elements takes place at the center of the channel on electrode surfaces (e.g. Au). In this task, molecules are simulated to flow past the channel, and be immobilized on the electrode pad at the bottom center. A slice on the zy plane is used as the modeling geometry of this task (Fig. 5).

Figure 5. Modeling geometry used in task 2. A sliced area of the microfluidic channel with pad electrode at the bottom center is used.

Here, the molecules convect and diffuse near the surface, the rate of immobilization is determined by several factors including the inlet concentration (c0), diffusion coefficient (D), maximum surface molecule density (Γs). The convection-diffusion equation and transport-adsorption equation are used along with time-dependent study:

$${{\partial c} \over {\partial t}} + \nabla \cdot (-D\nabla c) + \textbf{u} \cdot \nabla c = R$$

$${{\partial c_s} \over {\partial t}} + \nabla \cdot (-D\nabla c_s) = k_{ads} c(\Gamma_s – c_s)-k_{des} c_s$$

For the transport-adsorption equation, it is assumed that the change of surface concentration plus the rate of surface diffusion equals the rate of Langmuir adsorption isotherm.

Fig. 6 shows the time-dependent surface concentration (cs) change when c0 = 1μM, and Fig. 7 shows the binding curve (probe density vs time) for different values of c0.

Figure 6. Time-dependent surface concentration (cs) change. t = 0~18hr.

Figure 7. Probe surface density (molecules/cm2) vs time (hr).

At concentrations above 0.1μM, the probe density almost saturates to a value of 9.6×1012 molecules/cm2 before immobilizing for 10 hours. The result highly resembles a typical binding curve, suggesting the possibility for computer simulating assisted optimization of in vitro parameters, which is really helpful for understanding underlying mechanisms for the system.

Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) Simulation.

EIS is a rapid and label-free method for detection of bio-molecules, and is widely implemented on a variety of biosensors. In this task, I simulated EIS diagrams by changing the values of the heterogeneous rate constant (k0) and the double layer capacitance (Cdl). Both Cdl and k0 are affected by the immobilized surface molecule density on an electrode surface, and are important physical properties when analyzing EIS data. A slice on the xy plane is used as the modeling geometry of this task (Fig. 8).

Figure 8. Geometry being simulated for task 3. A 2D plane is sliced in the xy direction.

Here, a sinusoidal voltage wave is applied between the two electrodes (amplitude ≅ 5mV), and Bode plots and Nyquist plots can be drawn according to the measured impedance. According to the surface redox reaction, an equivalent circuit can be constructed. The equivalent circuit for this task is shown in Fig. 9.

Figure 9. Equivalent circuit used in my research and task 3.

Fick’s 2nd law and Butler-Volmer equation are used for simulation:

$${{\partial c}\over{\partial t}} = \nabla \cdot (D\nabla c)$$

$$j = nFk_0 (c_{Red} e^{ {(n-\alpha_c)F\eta} \over {RT} } – c_{Ox} e^{ {-\alpha_c F\eta} \over {RT} })$$

EIS plots are simulated for different values of k0 and Cdl (Fig. 10).

Figure 10. Bode and Nyquist plots for the simulated EIS data. k0 has a range from 0.001 to 0.1 (cm/s), and Cdl has a range from 0.01 to 100 (uF/cm2).

By undergoing this simulation project, I furthermore understood some fundamental interactions between the physical properties and outcome of my research to a new depth, and developed new concepts about how to improve it.

After completing this project, I also used COMSOL for simulating time-dependent concentration gradient variation of redox molecules in my 1st author journal paper “Diffusion impedance modeling for interdigitated array electrodes by conformal mapping and cylindrical finite length approximation”.

[Full report for this project]

Game-playing AI

I have a great interest in playing puzzle and board games, where elaborate planning or problem solving strategy is a crucial part to succeed or win the game. After starting to learn programming since junior high school, I had written several programs that can compete with human players in a board game, solve a brain-twisting puzzle in less than one second, or play other difficult games by taking advantage of a computer’s computational speed. Here are some game-playing AIs that I had been working on.

Survival Rate Prediction Model for Startup Companies

This is an end semester project that I have done with my groupmates in college. In this study, we proposed a model to predict a startup company’s future condition using a deep multilayer perceptron (MLP) and decision tree. I mainly played the role for data quantification and literature review of this study. In our study, we built a prediction analysis model for startup companies. Furthermore, we identified what the key factors are and what influences will it have on the results. Our main hypothesis is that money, people and active days are the key factors. We built the prediction model from CrunchBase, which is the largest public database with relevant profiles about companies.

Data Quantification

For the data obtained, there are 4 groups of data that are quantified: country state, employee range, roles and countries. Regarding the states group (which only exists in USA and Canada), we think that different states have different impacts on the survival rate of a startup. A lookup table for scoring of states is defined [1][2][3]. The original data for employee quantities are a range between two numbers (e.g. 101-250). These are transformed into the average of the upper and lower bound. Employees of 10000+ are defined to be 15000. For the roles group, the data “company” is arbitrarily defined as 0.1 and “company, investor” is defined as 0.9. This is because we regard a company as wealthier and influential when it also plays a role of an investor, compared with only being a company. The other roles are transformed to 0.5. The impact of country on startup environment is also studied [4] and scores from 0.329 to 0.947 are given to countries that have above 300 startup companies in record.

Table 1. Company status and scores of 23 countries.

Country Closed Operating Acquired IPO  Score 

Neural Network Implementation

The ANN runs on a Windows 10 OS (i7-8700k CPU) with DDR4 2666MHz 16G RAM and Nvidia GTX 1070 Ti GPU. Keras is used to construct the network, and three networks of multilayer perceptron (MLP) with different number of layers are designed for comparison. There are 4 outputs of the network, indicating the probabilities of the final status which are: (1) Closed, (2) Operating, (3) Acquired and (4) IPO.

Figure 1. MLP Structure of the 3 neural networks.

The three networks have respectively 2, 4 and 6 hidden layers, with each network all starting with a 1024-neuron hidden layer and ending with a 32-neuron hidden layer (Fig. 1). Table 2 shows the training results.

Table 2. Mean square error (MSE) and categorical cross-entropy loss for the 3 networks.

LossActivation Network 1 Network 2 Network 3 
Cross-entropy loss ReLU0.6950.6910.690
Cross-entropy losssigmoid0.6920.6910.691
Cross-entropy losslinear0.6950.6920.690
Cross-entropy losstanh0.6910.6920.691

The results show that almost all results are close to 70% with few difference. In general, ReLU activation has a better result than sigmoid activation, while linear activation may outperform ReLU when the network is deep enough.

The neural network behaves like a black box. It is quite difficult to conclude significant insights just by looking at the trained parameters. However, regarding the importance for business, we used a decision tree to help us understand which factor is the most important and how important they are respectively.

Decision Tree Training

We tried three different depths of decision tree: 4 (Fig. 2), 6 (Fig. 3), and 10. We set the gain ratio to be the criterion, and the confidence to 0.1.

Figure 2. Decision tree of depth = 4.

Figure 3. Decision tree of depth = 6.

The results show that if a company is large enough to exceed 500 people, the close rates are low. In most cases, large companies are acquired by mergers and acquisitions. In addition to the number of employees, funding total amount also has a significant impact on whether a company eventually survives or closes.

Key Findings

Among the factors regarding the ability to survive of starting up companies, the factors such as the number of employees, funding total amount, and the active days have significant influences on the company’s survivability. On the contrary, the factors such as country, region or number of funding rounds do not have significant influences. Whether a company acts as an investor simultaneously will also have influences on whether the company will become an IPO or will be acquired.

Future Work

Our future work is expected to integrate the inspirative insight gained from our case study with the methodology of our own. Three items are listed as in the following:

  1. Construct a heterogeneous relationship network for survival rate prediction [5].
  2. Define a data path score according to HeteSim algorithm [6][7].
  3. Predict company survival rate using MLP, decision tree and other neural networks.
  4. Predict how much money a company will raise.


  1. Bill Murphy , The Start-up Hall of Shame (America’s 10 Worst States for Entrepreneurs), © 2018 Manuseto Ventures,
  2. Bill Murphy , 10 Top States for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, © 2018 Manuseto Ventures,
  3. Enterprising States: States Innovate, © 2015 The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation,
  4. Zameena Mejia, The top 10 best countries for entrepreneurs in 2018, © 2019 CNBC LLC,
  5. Xiangxiang Zeng, You Li, Stephen C.H. Leung, Ziyu Lin, Xiangrong Liu, Investment behavior prediction in heterogeneous information network, Neurocomputing, Volume 217, 2016, Pages 125-132
  6. Sun, Y., & Han, J. (2012). Mining Heterogeneous Information Networks: Principles and Methodologies. Synthesis Lectures on Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery, 3(2), 1-159
  7. Shi, C., Kong, X., Huang, Y., Yu, P. S., & Wu, B. (2014). HeteSim: A General Framework for Relevance Measure in Heterogeneous Networks. IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering, 26(10), 2479-2492. [6702458].