Questions tagged [soft-question]

A soft question is a question (possibly subjective) about the field of theoretical computer science as opposed to being a question in theoretical computer science.

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Are there 'poision-pill' research questions in TCS?

I intend to double major in CS/Math and go to grad school for TCS. I have some - unorthodox - research ideas I would like to pursue for grad school. At the very least, they are interdisciplinary (...
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4 votes
1 answer
209 views

Does double majoring with math in undergrad help one grasp TCS topics more easier?

I'm a CS major. However, a lot of TCS topics seem to be in the realm of pure math. Should I add a math major to complement understanding and for a future career in TCS?
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6 votes
0 answers
240 views

Are teaching-based tenure positions a unicorn in TCS?

I thought about asking this question over at academia.stackexchange, but reverted to posting here since is overly specific to TCS. I’m currently a fourth year PhD student in TCS in a top 4 school. So ...
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18 votes
2 answers
821 views

Why does it matter how difficult a proof is?

I am confused by how the objective worth of CS theory research is assessed. In the last year, I had been working on formalizing some tasks from a different research field in cs theoretic terms, i.e. ...
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23 votes
1 answer
882 views

FOCS virtual fee $600

I'm not sure this is on topic here, but probably can be best answered by this community, so I'm posting it as a soft-question. Due to the pandemic, FOCS 2021 will be a virtual conference. Most ...
1 vote
0 answers
79 views

Graph associated to a mathematical statement (for the purpose of zero-knowledge proofs)

I'll preface this question by saying I have very little (zero!) knowledge of theoretical computer science, and this post is a genuine attempt to understand something, even if at an intuitive level, ...
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7 votes
1 answer
320 views

Which universities in the U.S. are doing research in type theory?

The question is meant to be broad in that recommendations with mentions of the particular areas within type theory research are greatly appreciated. Also, the research need not be conducted in ...
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1 vote
0 answers
54 views

Decision tree vs. pebble game lower bounds

This question concerns two types of lower bounds. In a pebbling lower bound, we are concerned with the complexity of constructing the output from the input. For example, if the only way we could ...
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7 votes
3 answers
995 views

Is it right to ask a TCS researcher about the real life application of the problem she/he is working on?

I have attended a decent number of TCS conferences. It is good that researchers solve difficult problems. However, I am often interested in the reason why a problem is interesting in the first place. ...
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1 vote
0 answers
149 views

I think I may have discovered a new algorithm for a common problem. Now what?

I was trying to solve a common problem the other week and upon checking Stackoverflow there was a solution, but it just seemed like there should be a better way to do it. I thought about it for a ...
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16 votes
6 answers
5k views

Can theoretical computer science be applied in social sciences?

I'm very new to this field - technically not in it but want to be. I'm very early in my academic career (sophomore at a community college) but decided that I want to add a math major along with my ...
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16 votes
3 answers
4k views

Reviewing a paper and found a better solution

I was reviewing a paper of a double-blind conference (ML/AI-based conference). The authors improved the approximation bounds for some special instances of a problem. To understand their proof better, ...
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3 votes
2 answers
258 views

How to acknowledge answers of TCS in the paper?

I am researcher in a company from last 5 years. I have received few answers on Theoretical Computer Science stack exchange regarding my current research work. They are not the main part of the paper ...
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16 votes
1 answer
881 views

Why most of the top TCS conferences are not double-blind?

I have found that the most notable TCS conferences like FOCS, STOC, SODA, and ICALP are single-blind. That is the authors do not know the identity of reviewers; however, the reviewers know the ...
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4 votes
0 answers
91 views

Simple randomized priority queue matching the Fibonacci heap time bounds?

Since the Fibonacci heap was developed, many other priority queues have been invented with equivalent time bounds and a simpler design (e.g. hollow heaps, quake heaps, etc.). Many classical worst-case ...
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16 votes
4 answers
3k views

Algorithms Careers

I’ve been writing software for a living for a number of years now. I have graduate background in mathematics and I am wondering whether knowledge of higher algorithms is utilized anywhere in industry. ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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Do theoretical computer scientists work more with proving theorems, or work more with data?

As theoretical computer scientists, do you work more with proving theorems, or do you work more with data? According to How to Criticize Computer Scientists, computer scientists can be divided into ...
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4 votes
0 answers
169 views

The graph of problem reductions

A classical approach to study the complexity of a problem $P$ is to efficiently reduce a well known problem $P'$ to $P$, thus showing that $P$ is at least as difficult as $P'$. The TCS literature ...
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3 votes
2 answers
143 views

Looking for some lecture videos on logic, models of computation and computational complexity/tcs fundamentals [closed]

Looking for some lecture videos (introductory level) on logic, models of computation as well as computational complexity/ other theoretical computer science fundamentals
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1 answer
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What math courses should I revisit to prepare for a CS Ph.D. (Reinforcement learning and Game Theory)?

I am planning to join a CS Ph.D. program in 6 months. My topics of research will be in the area of Reinforcement Learning and Game Theory. Even though I have a good grasp of these two topics’ ...
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6 votes
1 answer
335 views

Advice on undergraduate research

I am a junior in college who is very interested in doing some sort of REU/research internship in theoretical computer science this summer, as I would like to get research experience before potentially ...
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3 votes
1 answer
325 views

Which are the best universities for a DPhil/PhD in proof theory and automated reasoning?

I'm an undergraduate student studying computer science and I'm interested in doing a PhD after I graduate. I would like to do research in proof theory and automated reasoning, specifically in ...
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1 vote
1 answer
149 views

Publishing by showing falsity of existing results [closed]

Is it valid to publish a minor result related to computer science complexity theory and classes that disproves and falsifies an existing result? Would that be a valid and respectable endeavor?
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16 votes
2 answers
503 views

Publishing short and simple results

I have a manuscript that has been conference-rejected 3 times up to this point. Just to clear things up, I am by no means a senior researcher but I am not a junior who cannot judge the strength of my ...
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4 votes
1 answer
167 views

Formal theory about explaining algorithms

There is a lot of algorithms written in formal languages, but I have never seen any formal system which target is to explain or give a rationale behind an algorithm. It seems that when constructing ...
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4 votes
1 answer
231 views

Should one study undergrad TCS materials before taking grad-level ones? (soft question)

I am a 1st year PhD student. I got a bachelor's degree in CS but I didn't start learning TCS systematically until this year. This dumb question came to me when I opened an undergrad complexity lecture ...
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32 votes
9 answers
4k views

Any fundamental papers in TCS which were found to be incorrect/wrong later?

I am asking this question out of curiosity. I recently encountered this well-known paper on (published in 2009): the hardness_of_Euclidean_kmeans The paper showed that the previous NP-hardness ...
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16 votes
5 answers
2k views

Why do TCS papers have author names in alphabetical order of their surnames?

I am currently doing a Ph.D. in Theoretical Computer Science, and any research paper I encountered so far has the author's names in alphabetical order of their surnames. For example consider the most ...
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4 votes
1 answer
236 views

Online TCS Seminars

I want to have a list of online seminars that holds now. So far I know only about TCS+(https://sites.google.com/site/plustcs/) seminars. I would like to ask if there are other TCS seminars.
8 votes
0 answers
144 views

How to succeed in remote TCS research as undergraduate

I am participating in a remote summer research program in theoretical computer science due to the current pandemic. I recognize that given the current situation, it may be harder to collaborate with ...
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28 votes
1 answer
1k views

Are there any public synchronous discussion forums (slack, discord, etc.) for TCS

I'm a 2nd year masters student studying theoretical CS (algorithms to be precise). I would like to know if there are any public synchronous discussion groups (slack, discord, etc.) for TCS. CSTheory ...
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10 votes
4 answers
2k views

How do conference proceedings add to academic prestige?

I come from mathematics and, for whatever reason, am trying to publish in theoretical computer science. I'm still trying to understand the role of conference proceedings, and I have two specific ...
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6 votes
1 answer
339 views

Is the basis of parity functions the only orthonormal basis for Boolean functions?

Is there another orthonormal basis of functions for Boolean functions? Or, more specifically, besides the parity functions, is there another explicit function (which is common and has a name) that can ...
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10 votes
4 answers
910 views

What podcast should everybody listen to?

This list was inspired by the lists: What are the popular science books that inspire TCS? What Books Should Everyone Read? What papers should everyone read? What videos should everybody watch? I don'...
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3 votes
1 answer
94 views

What is 'circuit problem' mentioned in Kempe-Kitaev-Regev's local hamiltonian problem paper

I have been going through Kempe-Kitaev-Regev's paper The Complexity of the Local Hamiltonian Problem. In the first paragraph of page 3, the authors point out that: To the best of our knowledge, ...
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1 vote
1 answer
195 views

Analytic Number theory in TCS [closed]

Are there any applications of analytic number theory in TCS?
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5 votes
0 answers
140 views

Program size versus program running time

Short "naive" question: Is it true that faster algorithms require longer programs ? Given a decision problem $A$ and a reasonable model of computation, there can be many ways (algorithms) ...
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5 votes
0 answers
185 views

What research is being done in classical complexity theory?

As far as I'm aware, classical complexity theory is being replaced by more recent forms of complexity theory, such as communication complexity and quantum complexity. What happened to results such as ...
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0 votes
1 answer
188 views

Diving straight into "research" versus studying broadly as an undergrad (soft question)

I'm nearing the end of my first year as an undergraduate and am very confident that I want to pursue a PhD in TCS. Fortunately because I quickly realized what I'm interested in and have a solid ...
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13 votes
0 answers
398 views

What percentage of SODA papers are galactic algorithms?

Consider papers published in major theoretical CS conferences during the last 5 year, where the main result is that there exists an algorithm with some time or space complexity to solve some problem. ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Sorting using comparisons that are not simple mappings of simple comparisons

The Python language has a sort(x) function that sorts a list based on the intrinsic comparison operator associated with the type of the elements of its input list x. One can also provide a cmp ...
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4 votes
0 answers
111 views

Status of the Junta Problem (soft question)

Does the learning theory community in general believe that juntas can be learned in polynomial time? The naive algorithm works in quasi-polynomial time. MOS's paper shows how to solve the junta ...
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13 votes
1 answer
282 views

Dialogue writing style & Yuri Gurevich's imaginary student: Quisani

Recently, while I was looking for more sources of crossing sequence in computational complexity theory, I came across the article "Is Randomness 'Native' to Computer Scientist?" written by M. Ferbus-...
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4 votes
1 answer
226 views

What are the criteria for inviting conference papers (e.g. SODA) for special issue?

This is mostly for some immigration related document that I am trying to write and want to reference an online link which mentions that only a select few papers are invited for special issue for SODA ...
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21 votes
1 answer
1k views

Turing award papers

I was wondering if there are individual publications that have led their authors to win the Turing Prize or if the Turing Prize is the result of a lifetime's work and multiple publications and results....
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3 votes
0 answers
115 views

Metrics for modelling convergence in the lambda-calculus

I wonder if there have been efforts to reconcile the measure approach to termination and Scott's domain theory or other topological models of computation. In other words, can we translate this measure ...
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4 votes
0 answers
215 views

Advice for new grad student [closed]

I'm a first year PhD student in a CS department at what some would probably consider a mid-tier university. I've been reading from Vershynin's High-Dimensional Probability and been trying to learn ...
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1 vote
2 answers
169 views

Are patents good sources for academic research?

I'm a freshman Master's student in Computer Science and I need to write a paper for my Operating System class. While looking through research articles using google scholar I found that a lot results ...
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2 votes
0 answers
186 views

Quantum advantage beyond the black-box model

Question Aaronson wrote in his thesis that “essentially all quantum algorithms that we know today—from Shor’s algorithm, as discussed previously, to Grover’s algorithm, to the quantum adiabatic ...
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5 votes
1 answer
310 views

Site with collection of exercises in TCS?

Is there a website with a large collection of exercises for theoretical computer science, sorted by topics? I know that many exercises can be found in different textbooks, I'm looking for an online ...
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