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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245
votes
39answers
117k views

What Books Should Everyone Read?

[Timeline] This question has the same spirit of what papers should everyone read and what videos should everybody watch. It asks for remarkable books in different areas of theoretical computer ...
466
votes
70answers
167k views

What papers should everyone read?

This question is (inspired by)/(shamefully stolen from) a similar question at MathOverflow, but I expect the answers here will be quite different. We all have favorite papers in our own respective ...
83
votes
14answers
17k views

What kind of mathematical background is needed for complexity theory?

I am currently an undergraduate student, bound to graduate this year. After graduation, I am considering to work towards a TCS master/PhD. I have begun wondering what fields of mathematics are ...
366
votes
92answers
110k views

Algorithms from the Book.

Paul Erdos talked about the "Book" where God keeps the most elegant proof of each mathematical theorem. This even inspired a book (which I believe is now in its 4th edition): Proofs from the Book. If ...
63
votes
10answers
7k views

Are there any open problems left about DFAs?

After studying deterministic finite state automata (DFA) in undergrad, I felt they are extremely well understood. My question is whether there is something we still don't understand about them. I don'...
37
votes
7answers
7k views

How do I get started in theoretical CS ?

I'm a freshmen studying computer science and I already know that I want to go into academia with focus of theoretical comp sci. I already read some of papers referenced in this question and this ...
145
votes
39answers
41k views

What videos should everybody watch?

Stanford University now has a Youtube channel, with free access to HD video of full courses on everything from dynamical systems to quantum entanglement. More conferences and workshops are ...
94
votes
5answers
20k views

List of TCS conferences and workshops

I would like to ask for help in compiling a list of as many TCS-related conferences and workshops as possible. My main motivation for doing this is to plan possible blog coverage of more theory ...
115
votes
15answers
17k views

What Lecture Notes Should Everyone Read?

There has been several questions with the same scheme as this one: What papers should everyone read What books should everyone read What are the recent TCS books whose drafts are available online ...
55
votes
5answers
30k views

What CS blogs should everyone read?

Many top notch computer science researchers and research groups) maintain active blogs that keep us updated on the latest research in the authors' fields of interest. In most cases, blog posts are ...
75
votes
20answers
9k views

Examples of “Unrelated” Mathematics Playing a Fundamental Role in TCS?

Please list examples where a theorem from mathematics which was not normally considered to apply in computer science was first used to prove a result in computer science. The best examples are those ...
32
votes
7answers
2k views

Algorithmic lens in the social sciences

Looking at questions through the algorithmic lens (i.e. from an algorithmic or complexity point of view) has become useful in disciplines outside of the 'standard domain' of computer science. In ...
31
votes
6answers
2k views

Empirical results in CS papers

I'm new to the CS field and I have noticed that in many of the papers that I read, there are no empirical results (no code, just lemmas and proofs). Why is that? Considering that Computer Science is a ...
9
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5answers
3k views

How do you decide when you have enough research results to write a paper and to which journal you submit the paper

In some research area in CS we got some very interesting results. Now we are thinking about publishing them. In the group we are, the philosophy is to publish inmediately small things in conference ...
7
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3answers
820 views

Do you use any article organizers? [closed]

There is an increasing number of scientific articles which I look through and somehow I feel a lack of a tool to keep track of the already read ones and my summary notes on it. Or another usage ...
80
votes
42answers
16k views

Funny TCS-related papers etc?

What is the funniest TCS-related published work you know? Please include only those that are intended to be funny. Works which are explicitly crafted to be intelligently humorous (rather than, say, ...
56
votes
9answers
23k views

Explain P = NP problem to 10 year old

It is my first question on this site. I am taking a master's course on theory of computation. How you would explain P = NP problem to a 10 year old child and why it has such a monetary reward on it? ...
59
votes
6answers
9k views

How to get a job

I'm new to the site. On mathoverflow this would be community wiki, but I don't see how to set that here. Not a research question, but hopefully of interest to professional theoretical computer ...
38
votes
8answers
15k views

Why go to theoretical computer science/research?

I'm currently starting on the university [computer science] and there we have lot of opportunities to begin with researching. Before finding this website, I had no intention to go on this way [I ...
70
votes
12answers
8k views

How important is knowing how to program for TCS?

Coming from a more mathematical background, I never really learned how to code. I am starting a PhD in TCS and many people were surprised by how little I knew about programming (and about computer in ...
42
votes
16answers
4k views

Physics results in TCS?

It seems clear that a number of subfields of theoretical computer science have been significantly impacted by results from theoretical physics. Two examples of this are Quantum computation ...
48
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8answers
4k views

Are there non-constructive algorithm existence proofs?

I remember I might have encountered references to problems that have been proven to be solvable with a particular complexity, but with no known algorithm to actually reach this complexity. I struggle ...
47
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6answers
2k views

Ways for a mathematician to stay informed of current research in complexity theory

Complexity theory is a strong secondary interest of mine but it's not my primary research interest, so there is no hope for me to attend all the conferences, read all the blogs, and ensure that the "...
45
votes
5answers
2k views

Historical reasons for adoption of Turing Machine as primary model of computation.

It's my understanding that Turing's model has come to be the "standard" when describing computation. I'm interested to know why this is the case -- that is, why has the TM model become more widely-...
15
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6answers
7k views

Quantum computing project ideas

I'm undergraduate computer science student and I'm currently planning for my graduation project. I need some ideas in quantum computing field. any help?
5
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1answer
3k views

Some good Theoretical Computer Science Journals

I have been doing some work in Theoretical Computer Science(especially related to algorithms), and I wanted the publish some of my findings. Can someone please suggest some good journals or ...
57
votes
16answers
4k views

What tools do you use to write papers?

What tools do you use to write papers? From the little experience that I have, theoreticians spend a large amount of time writing and refining papers, besides actually being creative. That is, ...
64
votes
3answers
8k views

How do I referee a paper?

Updated below We all know the critical importance of peer-review. It is the main form of quality control and feedback on research. However, to an early-stage researcher (like me), it can sometimes ...
48
votes
6answers
3k views

Good examples for how to write well in TCS

I was editing a student manuscript. The student remarked that it would be nice to see examples of quality writing in published work, and I realized that I couldn't really come up with good examples ...
51
votes
21answers
4k views

Dinner-table description of theoretical computer science?

I'm often asked what a theoretical computer scientist does. It would be great to have some nice responses to this question. I tend to fall back to technical jargon and people's eyes usually glaze ...
27
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6answers
2k views

How do you get a “Physical Intuition” for results in TCS?

I'm sorry if this question is a little vague, but I am curious how successful researchers get a "feel" for the results in TCS. For example, linear algebra can be understood geometrically, or in terms ...
38
votes
13answers
3k views

Inspirational talk for final year high school pupils

I am often asked by my department to give talks to final year high school pupils about the more mathematical elements of computer science. I do my best to pick topics from TCS which might inspire ...
37
votes
4answers
4k views

What would you advise someone who wants to do research as a hobby?

I love doing TCS in my spare time. Lately I have been trying to do some research as a hobby. I'm looking for some extra input from people who do this full-time: - Do you think it is possible to do ...
10
votes
8answers
3k views

What math courses should I take to prepare for a CS masters or PhD?

I'm a self-taught professional programmer. I am pretty good at it (Ruby, Unix, Clojure, Java, Objective-C), but now I'm thinking of taking it to the next level by maybe applying for a masters or PhD ...
41
votes
6answers
2k views

Which model of computation is “the best”?

In 1937 Turing described a Turing machine. Since then many models of computation have been decribed in attempt to find a model which is like a real computer but still simple enough to design and ...
24
votes
4answers
2k views

Handbook of advanced data structures

I am looking for a book on advanced data structures that goes beyond what is covered in standard textbooks like Cormen, Leiserson, Rivest, and Stein's "Introduction to Algorithms". A book that can be ...
60
votes
8answers
3k views

What is the complexity class most closely associated with what the human mind can accomplish quickly?

This question is something I've wondered about for a while. When people describe the P vs. NP problem, they often compare the class NP to creativity. They note that composing a Mozart-quality ...
34
votes
8answers
11k views

Alan Turing's Contributions to Computer Science

Alan Turing, one of the pioneers of (theoretical) computer science, made many seminal scientific contributions to our field, including defining Turing machines, the Church-Turing thesis, ...
29
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9answers
2k views

What is the best place to get BibTeX entries for computer science articles ?

Other than ACM, IEEE computer Society, Google Scholar which is the best site to get bibtex entries for computer science related articles ?
35
votes
8answers
3k views

Which definition of asymptotic growth-rate should we teach?

When we follow the standard textbooks, or tradition, most of us teach the following definition of big-Oh notation in the first few lectures of an algorithms class: $$ f = O(g) \mbox{ iff } (\exists c >...
24
votes
5answers
1k views

What are some career options for someone with a computer scientist master degree?

Other than going fully academic and getting a doctorate/post-doc, or going for a more or less 'standard' job in software development, what are some other career options in the full or semi theoretical ...
16
votes
3answers
10k views

Graduate studies (PhD) in CS Theory vs. Applied Math

Given most American universities only accept applications in only one field, I'm trying to figure out what are the advantages/disadvantages of applying to a CS theory program vs an applied math ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What kind of mathematical background is needed for graph theory?

It is going to be the first time for me to learn graph theory. What kind of mathematical background do I need to prepare master theses about this subject in following years? Which subjects should be ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Book recommendations for CompSci related math

Searching for good textbooks on math related to Computer Science I bought two german books yet, but found them not to be easily understandable and not suitable for self-study . German textbooks are ...
6
votes
0answers
862 views

What should I do to switch from math department to cs to research tcs topics?

This can be a very weird question, but I haven't seen the same situation with mine in this forum, so I'd like to put this. Let me introudce my situation first. I'm now a math student of master ...
4
votes
3answers
524 views

Is one definition of the word paradox, “something that can be used to prove the halting problem undecidable?”

I've been toying recently with the idea that the set of all "real-world" paradoxes...such as the Liar's Paradox, Russell's Paradox, the Unexpected Hanging Paradox, the Berry paradox, etc. ......
10
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4answers
745 views

How to know if X and Y have coauthored?

Is there any tool where one can figure out if two people have coauthored or not? Like the tool where one can figure out somebody's Erdos _number_ .
5
votes
0answers
608 views

Learning quantum CS [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the quantum computational model? What is the best way to study quantum branch of CS for the person with rather advanced background in classical CS? Does one need to ...
120
votes
13answers
12k views

Advice on good research practices

After reading Daniel Apon's question, I started thinking that it might be useful (especially to junior researchers and graduate students like me) to ask a broader and more general question so we can ...
89
votes
7answers
29k views

What is the contribution of lambda calculus to the field of theory of computation?

I'm just reading up on lambda calculus to "get to know it". I see it as an alternate form of computation as opposed to the Turing Machine. It's an interesting way of doing things with functions/...