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Showing posts from June, 2009

Learning to write

The Chronicle of Higher Education has a great article on the importance of writing skills for graduate students. (Thanks to Jitu Padhye for the pointer.) Though nothing in the article surprises me, the article highlights a widespread concern about the lack of formal writing training for grad students. Learning to write effectively is one of the most important skills you need as a grad student, and, of course, as a researcher or faculty member later in life. But we don't actually teach this skill. Most faculty (myself included) seem to expect students know how to write, or will somehow pick it up in the course of their research -- and, presumably, having enough conference papers rejected. Even worse, most students don't realize how bad their writing is. This becomes a real problem if you're a new faculty member trying to get funding, and people can't follow your papers or are unconvinced by your grant proposals. Good writing is everything.

I'm not sure how to solve t…

Making collaborations work

I've been fortunate to have several productive collaborations with domain scientists in fields such as seismology, emergency medicine, rehabilitation medicine, and public health. One of the exciting things about sensor networks is that they open up avenues for this kind of cross-disciplinary work, but there are always challenges in getting newcollaborations off the ground. I've been doing some thinking about some of the keys to successful links between CS and domain science.

Mutual respect for each other's field. I often hear CS people say that "those physicists" (for example) just need CS people to "make their code run fast." It's a conceit that only computer scientists know how to program -- the domain scientists I've worked with often build and maintain complex software systems. By the same token, it's really helpful when domain scientists "gets" what turns a computer scientist on -- not just implementing something to get the jo…