It has been such a pleasure working towards my PhD thesis and being part of the School of ECS, VUW. I cannot resist expressing my gratitude to individuals without whom this thesis would not be able to finish.
First I would like to acknowledge my PhD advisers, Prof. Bastiaan Kleijn and Prof. Mengjie Zhang, who provided me the best academic supervision I have ever had. Bastiaan is a discoverer-minded, genuine intellectual who has changed my view from being “too pragmatic” to being “more thoughtful” on research. He has brought me that deep understanding, developing intuitions and insights when tinkering a research problem should come first and be the highest priority before anything else. Meng is a perfect example of determination, diligence, tenacity, and leadership; I have never met anyone else better than him in these aspects. He uses his infinite enthusiasm to motivate me and his other students to work at their best, and it is quite infectious! All in all, they are top-notch advisers; both are very generous and expect nothing but best for me. I feel grateful and privileged to work with them.
I would also like to thank Dr. David Balduzzi, who has been my most frequent collaborator during my PhD (well, David is more like my unofficial adviser). I learned a lot from him and admire his brilliance, intuition, curiosity, and enthusiasm. Thank you David. I hope we can always keep collaborating in the future!
I am very grateful for the Victoria Doctoral Scholarship, the Faculty Strategic Research Grant (211215), the School of ECS Grant (E1745), and the Marsden Grant of New Zealand (E2401) for the financial support. My PhD project would not be possible without those supports.
During my PhD, I have been attached with three different research/study groups: Communication and Signal Processing (CaSP), Evolutionary Computation Research Group (ECRG), and Marcus’s Festival of Doubt (FoD). I would like to thank people in those groups for creating a stimulating research environment. Special thanks also to my PhD mates: Wenyu, Harsh, Ramoni, Fatih, Callum, Tim, Lakhsmi, Aryan, and other colleagues I cannot mention here, for the friendship, collaboration, discussions, and jokes.
I wish to thank all my Indonesian folks living in Wellington from (but not limited to) Indonesian Student Association (PPIW), the Indonesian embassy in New Zealand (KBRI), KAMASI, and UMI. Gathering with those folks and communities makes me feel never far away from my home country.
I would like to thank all my former school teachers and lecturers in Indonesia without whom my “PhD trajectory” would not exist. A special thank to my former undergraduate/graduate adviser from Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB), Dr. Dwi H. Widyantoro, with whom I learned about machine learning and began my research journey. I would also like to acknowledge Dr. Achmad Imam Kistijantoro and Dr. Rinaldi Munir who provided me supplementary recommendation letters, besides pak Dwi’s letter, during my PhD admission stage.
Last but foremost, I wholeheartedly thank my family, especially my dearest wife Syva (she is my soulmate, best friend, and means the world to me) and my lovely 3-year-old daughter Naisha. They sacrificed tremendously as a consequence of the time I spent too much in doing my research. I genuinely apologize and am looking forward to spending more time with them after PhD! I also wish to express my greatest gratitude to the best and wisest men, my parents (dr. H. Thala’at Z.A. and Hj. Cholilah). Their love, courage, and wisdom have shaped me into what I am today. I would like to also thank my parents-in-law (Ir. H. Goenarso and Hj. Winny Widalia) for their love and support.