Advice for Undergraduate Students
- Craig Partridge, Things I Wish I'd Been Told . Advice for students with a Bachelors in Computer Science, but applicable to Masters or Phd students.
- Advice for Computer Science College Students by Joel Spolsky. Seven pieces of useful advice: learning how to write and learning C are the top two.
Advice for Graduate Students
Life is difficult. Graduate school is even more difficult. Don't you wish you possess the wisdom that people who survived graduate schools have? Here is a comprehensive advice collection. If you find the list too daunting, you may try my short list. (I am a minimalist. :) I read the articles and found them useful, meaning I still recall what they say after years of reading.
- Richard Hamming, You and Your Research . It describes what are the important factors that lead to good research. From Hamming's perspective, these factors include courage, hard work, a focus on important problems, positive attitude, etc. An interesting observation Hamming mentioned is that "Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest." "Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former." Hence, if you work one more hour every day than you fellow graduate students, you probably will publish twice as many papers.
- Ratul Mahajan, How to build research network systems in your spare time. Ratul's secret recipe to his productive research: pick a domain carefully, know the problem well, debate several solutions to build yours around a core idea, and when building, start simple, and finally, make it real.
- How to do Research At the MIT AI Lab. Generally applicable to other schools.
- Burnout Prevention and Recovery. A little bit humor will sure help.
- The Secret to Raising Smart Kids. It's not really about raising kids. It's about how to be successful. "More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort -- not on intelligence or ability -- is key to success in school and in life."
- CS 7001: Introduction to Graduate Studies. This course offered at GaTech covers almost every aspect of the graduate school. It also includes the classic reference materials that should be on every graduate student's bookshelf. I highly recommend it.
- How to Read an Engineering Research Paper by William G. Griswold. The take-home message is that until you can answer a bunch of questions, you are not done reading a paper. William lists a number of important questions. I would add two: 1) What are the re-usable principles/tricks/algorithms presented in this paper? 2) What is the (authors') insight that drives the research? A system research paper often has a bunch of novel tricks. I believe the more such things you have in your toolbox, the more likely you can come up with an elegant/novel system design.
- The Elements of Style. You can read it online. It's a rule book for writing. Every graduate student should read it.
- Advice on Writing Research Papers by Tao Xie. A very good summary on the structure of a system-research paper. It describes what to include in each section of a paper. This presentation can be used as a checklist to structure your draft.
- Writing a technical paper by Michael Ernst. Includes specifics such as what a figure caption should contain and how to name the files associated with a paper.
- Suggested Guidelines for Finding Materials to include in the "Related Work" Sections of Conference Papers. Describes where to look for related work.
- How to Avoid the Reviewer's Axe by Stephen D. Senturia. This article explains the mentality of reviewers, and recommends practical guidelines to avoid provoking reviewers.
- A handy paper flow chart.
How to give a talk
- How to give a bad talk by John Ousterhout, Tom Anderson, Dave Patterson, ... (Channeled by Mike Dahlin).
- Giving a Conference Talk by Mike Dahlin. The take-home points I get are: 1) Your talk is an advertisement to the audience to go read your paper. 2) Practice, practice, practice. A good conference talk takes three to four weeks to prepare. The article contains a timeline of talk preparation, dating from three weeks before to half an hour before your talk.
Women in Science
- Women in Science by Philip Greenspun . Philip's view is that there are so few women in science because they found better (better-paid, less demanding) jobs. An interesting read.
Tips From Me
- Xiaowei Yang, How to buy a new car for first-time buyers (3/16/2005) .