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University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory
Friday Oct 13th, 2006 - 2pm
Computer Laboratory > Research > Systems Research Group > NetOS > Seminars > Friday Oct 13th, 2006 - 2pm

How to Succeed in Research: Advice to CS PhD Students

Brad Karp

Completing a PhD is a daunting task: the standard by which thesis research is judged is high, the burden of innovation in research falls squarely on the PhD student, and the thesis document itself is usually far longer and more complex than any written work a PhD student has produced previously. While most students expect producing a good solution to a research problem to be hard, many are surprised that choosing a good research problem and evaluating a solution to it are often even more difficult.

In this talk, targeted to PhD students in *all* years, across *all* topics in Computer Science, I will offer HT Kung's wisdom on how to succeed in CS research, with a few embellishments from my own experience. HT Kung was a tenured professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University through 1992, when he moved to Harvard University, where he remains today. His advice draws on his experience making seminal contributions across the breadth of computer science: from theoretical computer science (bounds on complexity of numerical computations and circuit complexity), to database algorithms (optimistic concurrency control), to parallel computing hardware (systolic arrays), to high-speed networks (credit-based flow control).

In this talk, I will address such practical questions as:

  • Why is producing a thesis proposal the most crucial (and often most difficult) part of producing a thesis?
  • What are the best known methods for attaining depth in a topic, and stimulating yourself to generate research ideas?
  • What are the most common misconceptions about the nature of research, and how to succeed at it?
  • What are the greatest pitfalls to successfully producing a thesis?
...among many others.

All PhD students are strongly encouraged to attend.

(based mostly on notes provided by HT Kung)