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Lindsey Kuper

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Pathetic studying-for-quals stories [Dec. 5th, 2010|11:54 pm]
Lindsey Kuper

Lindsey: *reads TaPL section 18.10*
Lindsey (excitedly yelling from living room): I understand late binding!
Alex: Show me!
Lindsey: *goes into Alex's office; writes stuff on whiteboard; talks a lot*
Lindsey: ...so you can see that when we invoke method a and a calls b, we don't use the b from the superclass Foo, but instead...
Alex: ...we use the b defined in Bar which extends Foo.
Lindsey (a little crestfallen): Yes. That's what I was about to say. *brightens up* But the exciting part is, we can implement all this using the fixpoint combinator!
Alex: Yeah, but nobody does that.
Lindsey: Oh...sure they...do...
Alex: No, they do it with a method lookup table and references. Bjarne explains it in the book! Or you can go look at the implementation of Java which last I checked is still open source despite Oracle's best efforts!
Lindsey: Pish tosh. I reject your small-minded stateful paradigm. We shall triumph! *flounces away*
Lindsey: *reads TaPL section 18.11*
Benjamin Pierce (paraphrased): This sucks. Let's use a method lookup table and references.


Uh, right. So. When I declared it to be NaProLaMo, Chris chrisamaphone suggested that I make daily updates. I suggested weekly ones instead, but I haven't been doing that, either, because I've been doing a terrible job of keeping up and I'm embarrassed. My original plan involved reading at least a chapter of TaPL every day, and at least one article or half a chapter of some other book every day. I managed to keep up the chapter-of-TaPL-a-day thing for a week, but didn't do most of the other reading, and then there was about a week and a half during which I did no quals reading whatsoever. (And it wasn't because I was slacking! I was working hard to finish my other projects!)

So now I'm desperately trying to catch up. I've been inhaling TaPL all weekend. By the end of today -- assuming the standard "today ends at 3 a.m." convention -- I'll be only two chapters away from on schedule. If you don't count the appendices, I'm well past the halfway mark now both in terms of chapter count and page count. Of course, I'm still way behind on everything else. The next week and a half is going to be insane. Every now and then, when I'm starting to feel like I'm going to die, I put down TaPL and pick up Davey and Priestley, which is kind of like deciding that Red Hat is too hard to admin so you're going to try running Slackware.1

Some of it is speedy going. Some of it is slow going. I just spent probably 30 minutes convincing myself that the least fixed point of set F is also the smallest F-closed set, which is probably about 29.5 more minutes than it should have taken. On the other hand, I maybe actually understand anything at all about coinduction now. One more chapter to go tonight. Oh, and the second half of "Blame for All" because oh, yeah, I still have actual homework to do.

Um. I'll see you in nine days?

  1. Please note: Paul stereotype441 actually did this once.

[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2010-12-06 04:19 pm (UTC)
One of my friends from undergrad once did a pretty good job of summing up how I often feel: "I keep having epiphanies about number relationships but they're all incredibly trite."
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From: simrob
2010-12-06 04:37 pm (UTC)
Okay, then I stand by my original comment: give yourself a freakin' break. You're not supposed to have original research epiphanies based on crash-reading TAPL, and even if your destiny is to like, crowdsurf among your adoring fans at POPL after winning the Turing Award, while crash-reading TAPL for quals you're going to have a bunch of epiphanies that have basically already been had hundreds of times because TAPL is a textbook. A good textbook (like a good talk) will even leave some stuff out on purpose so that you get the experience of figuring it out for yourself (see point 9: "this is also called winning"). So don't treat a feature of the book as a bug in you!

Then you can go read papers in Something Else (TM) and have maybe somewhat trivial ideas in Something Else Theory, ideas that (sometimes) turn out to be novel for people in your field, and that's awesome. Or, as sully put it to sparks: "Look, you're a type theorist, not a category theorist. What type theorists do is steal things from category theory and then lie about it."
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[User Picture]From: sstrickl
2010-12-06 05:02 pm (UTC)
I agree completely with Rob's statement here. Stop beating yourself up and keep reading! :D
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2010-12-06 05:36 pm (UTC)
Don't read too much into this, you guys. I'm not actually upset with myself for not understanding things (nor am I actually upset that nobody actually implements late binding with fix). It's mostly just FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU I have a lot of work to do FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUU.
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From: simrob
2010-12-06 07:36 pm (UTC)
My experience registered early-stage doubt and imposters syndrome, hence the pep talk. So, if I was off, even better! Generic pep talk! You are the kwiscach haderach! Or something! SPARTTTA! That speech the president character gave in Independence Day! Whooo!
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