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Things I might want to study in grad school - Lindsey Kuper [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Lindsey Kuper

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Things I might want to study in grad school [Nov. 9th, 2006|06:50 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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Things I might want to study in grad school:

11/09/2006: Things I might want to study in grad school, version 0.1

  • There are a lot of things that suck about this, but still, it's better than nothing:
    • I picked the five top-level things from Wikipedia's breakdown of fields of computer science. This is not the only taxonomy for computer science. (Do you know of a better one? Help.)
    • I think it's interesting that by starting at mathematical logic, you can get to the most stuff. That checks, because I think that of everything here, it gets closest to the core of what I think I'm really interested in, which is the study of formal systems. On the other hand, that might be because there are a lot of arrows missing. (Which ones? Help. This is important.)
  • A representation of this graph as a list is left as an exercise for the reader. (C'mon, Schemers, you know you want to. I see you twitching.)
  • You might be interested to see what OmniGraffle's autolayout function does with it.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: glowing_fish
2006-11-10 06:08 am (UTC)
I've noticed that you never mention Operating System as an area of interest. Operating System theory and practice is really the only area of Computer Science that I would say I have ever spent much time on...perhaps because I don't have the patience or the math ability to get into programming. Do you have any interest in Operating System theory? It seems to not have the academic following that its practical importance would suggest.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-10 06:37 am (UTC)
It's not so much my thing. But just because I'm not interested doesn't mean that it doesn't have an academic following. As far as patience and math ability go, I think it requires plenty.
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[User Picture]From: glowing_fish
2006-11-10 10:26 am (UTC)
The stuff I am thinking of might even be considered abstract enough to be operating systems theory. I was thinking of stuff like how users and permissions are set up, like how all Unix permissions have cool Gematrical meanings.

You know, the basic stuff that I teach in command line.

Speaking of which, have I asked you if you want to teach command line before?
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-10 07:33 pm (UTC)
If you want to know what qualifies as operating systems theory, I'd Google that phrase and look at what's in the syllabi of the courses you find. Or you can borrow my Silberschatz...nah, you know, just use Google.
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[User Picture]From: glowing_fish
2006-11-13 01:15 am (UTC)
wikipedia has very little to say on the matter of OS theory, although it has the usual boring laundry lists

e2 has this, but I already knew all of that.

I am having trouble keeping up with my attempts to keep up with your month of posting.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-13 04:33 am (UTC)
I just tagged all the NaBloPoMo stuff, so you can use that as a handy tool to see which ones you've hit and which you haven't! I think you've done an admirable job of staying on top of things, though. (Note that if I post more than once in a day, you only have to hit one of 'em. That should make things easier.)

Really, I'm surprised how well this whole NaBloPoMo deal has been working out. I did it as kind of a joke, but it turns out that I'm slowly but surely working through a big pile of things that I'd been meaning to write about, and some of the writing has actually turned out well. (I guess that's the point of NaNoWriMo too. If you make yourself write enough, some of it can't help but be good!) Some new people have started reading the journal, too, so that's neat.

When I was taking an OS course, I often felt that it was a matter of boring laundry lists. "How does the OS know how to do thus-and-such? There's a lookup table for that. How does it know what to do with what it finds in the table? There's a lookup table for that." And so on. But it's actually a very interesting topic; I just happened to take a crappy course and now I'm ruined for studying OS theory. Ruined!
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[User Picture]From: keturn
2006-11-10 06:31 pm (UTC)
So, there's this thing I've been meaning to tell you for a while, but I don't think I have yet. Which is this: no programmer I've ever worked with would make hiring decisions based on a computer science degree. Especially, I think, a doctorate. This may very well be because I'm a college drop-out, and so maybe I've just never been exposed to those environments, but still. There's also a very well recognized correlation between musical and math talents, so I wouldn't consider a music degree to stand in your way at all.

Speaking of math, and your observation that by starting from mathematical logic "you can get to the most stuff," I think that this is true of the study of CS. Many CS departments are, in fact, specialized sub-programs of the school's math department. (Or at least that was true the last time I was in school seven years ago.) Even in schools where the CS department stands on its own, it's still what CS is about. The other half of your top-level interests -- relational databases, programming languages, and software engineering -- are, I think, more vocational skills that I don't expect to be best served by graduate school.

Of course, what that means to you depends on what you're really going for. Some people really thrive in the academic environment, and CS is one of the fields that you can probably get the grad school to pay you to do, rather than the other way around. But if you're not just into study for study's sake, and this is just a path to something else (e.g. being "taken seriously" by other geeks), grad school might not be the most efficient way to do it.

But you should probably ask an actual CS grad student, rather than taking the word of this failed chemistry major. ;)
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-10 07:09 pm (UTC)
no programmer I've ever worked with would make hiring decisions based on a computer science degree.

Same here, for the most part.

I wouldn't consider a music degree to stand in your way at all.

Neither would I. It hasn't yet, anyway.

Speaking of math, and your observation that by starting from mathematical logic "you can get to the most stuff," I think that this is true of the study of CS. Many CS departments are, in fact, specialized sub-programs of the school's math department. (Or at least that was true the last time I was in school seven years ago.) Even in schools where the CS department stands on its own, it's still what CS is about.

All true. My undergrad CS department was a combined math and CS department until, I believe, just last year. I completed half a math major while I was there.

The other half of your top-level interests -- relational databases, programming languages, and software engineering -- are, I think, more vocational skills that I don't expect to be best served by graduate school.

I guess that it's not obvious how I arrived at those top-level interests. I started at the bottom, not the top. Software engineering appears because I'm interested in formal methods, and Wikipedia (at the moment) classifies formal methods under software engineering -- but Wikipedia isn't the be-all and end-all, which is one of the flaws with this fun little graph.

CS is one of the fields that you can probably get the grad school to pay you to do, rather than the other way around.

Yep. If funding doesn't come with admission, I can't go.

But if you're not just into study for study's sake, and this is just a path to something else (e.g. being "taken seriously" by other geeks), grad school might not be the most efficient way to do it.

I'm into study for study's sake.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-17 10:46 pm (UTC)
SE just seems like such a weird place to put it, because to me SE connotes programming, and I did formal methods stuff for a long time without writing any code that was going to actually run (which was fine with me). Among the things that fall under SE, it seems like the odd one out.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-18 07:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you're right. Software engineering is not about programming per se; it's about design of projects, which includes lots of things. But I didn't come to formal methods by way of software engineering. I'm interested in formal methods because I'm interested in logic. Which might be misguided, and maybe I should forget about saying I'm interested in formal methods, because maybe that will just land me with the software engineers when what I really want to do is hang out with the logicians. (Subject to change, of course.)
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[User Picture]From: idealisms
2006-11-12 08:45 pm (UTC)
The other half of your top-level interests -- relational databases, programming languages, and software engineering -- are, I think, more vocational skills that I don't expect to be best served by graduate school.

There's plenty of research in these areas. MSR and IBM both do lots of relational database work (I think it's mostly about self optimizing/tuning databases these days) and there's some research in non-relational databases (rdf/xml databases or object databases). Wisconson is the place to go for database research.

Programming languages isn't so much about languages, but features of languages. I think Texas has the good researches in that area.

I'm not sure what schools are good for software engineering, but Ralph Johnson (of Design Patterns fame) seems to have plenty of grad students working for him at UIUC.

It may be useful to browse recent conference publications from the ACM digital library. That'll probably give you a better sense of the direction various disciplines are heading.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2006-11-17 10:36 pm (UTC)
Nope, I didn't know about the gravity/pressure setting. This was the first time I'd ever used the thing. Cool.

Yeah, the nodes that I "missed" are missing on purpose. I'm mostly worried that I missed connections that ought to be there. Of which you pointed out several, so, also cool.
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