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The nitty gritty of doing a PhD

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Marco Caballero.

Abstract: It is really essential to do some actual work. This is not meant to be just a humourous remark, but basically an observation that work precedes thought in many cases. This is very much in line with Simon Peyton-Jones’ maxim about writing a paper being about writing down your ideas to clarify them. Writing down your ideas in code is an even better way to bring precision to your ideas (thanks to Henry for this reference: which says this nicely). But working code also does work for you. You can use it to get results. Results are useful since they tell you about things (reproduce, contradict, or improve on other peoples results, all fodder for chapters of thesis).

Most people start a CS PhD with some idea how to write code, and a vaguer idea how to write a dissertation. Some may have written a paper once or twice. The writing bit is a lot easier when you have a system to describe and results to report.

This means that from Day Zero, you can actually get on with things even when you don’t know what you are doing.

If you are only moderately lucky, the devil will be in the details, and hey presto, you have a hypothesis and a plan, and eventually a dissertation, and a diploma in thinkology.


This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Systems Research Group Seminar series.

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