It started with a kind question, “Yi, do you want to do a Ph.D.?”, asked by my supervisor M.I. Gerritsma when I was about to finish my master thesis. My answer was yes and the journey began. Dear Marc, during this journey, you have always been encouraging and guiding me to pass all challenges with your patience, knowledge, humor, and excellent approach of supervising, for which I cannot express more gratitude. My most sincere gratitude also goes to prof.dr. S. Hickel and dr. S.J. Hulshoff. Your profession and kindness helped me in various aspects and formed an important part of this journey. Thank you very much. I want to express my special thanks to dr. Artur Palha. You are always willing to help me patiently. Your generosity indeed overwhelms me, which I truly appreciate. I also would like to thank all other academic staff of the department and my co-authors. Your contributions to my research during multiple events meant a lot to me. I also thank the committee members for your assessments and your comments which make the dissertation much better.

What is also indispensable to such a journey is the work of all supportive staffs which includes but not limited to the paperwork by Colette, the hardware support by Nico, and all the efforts of other supportive colleagues in the department, faculty, IT service desks and the graduate school. Please accept my deepest thanks.

I was never alone during this journey because of my fellows, Luis, Zeno, Jordi, Alessandro, Beto & Bea, Mohamad, Yu, Tiago, Weibo, Haohua, Rakesh, Gabriel, Varun, Constantin, Shaafi, Xiaodong, Christoph, Kaisheng, Edo, Sagar, Martin, Alexander, Kushal, Ming, Jun, Joël, Pratik, Theo, Wouter, Jan, Koen, Constantin, Henry, Jacopo, Giuseppe, Paul, Lei and many more of whom I do not remember their names. Thank you so much for your accompany which I do value a lot. I also want to thank my family, as well as my friends including Pastor Cai, Pastor Yuan, Philip, Xin Ting, Yuting, Kuou & Jingwen, Zhang Pan, Pandixiong, Wei Wei, Ben, Xiaofei, Andy, Lian Chao & Shang Yu, Siqi, Li Yan & Tianmu, Uncle Li & Aunt Li, Huiying, Lulu & Xiaoluo, Haiyan, Xiaomei, Xiaoxiong, Yi, Ye, Zihao, Xuanyu & Xiaoxuan, Weiyuan & Chengcheng, Yurong, Chunchun, Feifei, Gaoan, Yingzhu, Yonghui, Shasha & Ruoyang, Maokun, Mu-en, Chen Cheng, Tianyu, Jingqi and many more I do not name here. The time spent with you has built a strong faith in me that will always encourage me, for which I am really grateful.

↩️ Back to My Ph.D. thesis.