Hot answers tagged

40

I was just referred to this question by graduate students that, in my opinion, were far too influenced by the answers. So let me start with two generic advises. To the aspiring scientist: Don't assign too much weight to any answer on such matters, and don't assume that a small and highly non-random sample represents the common views among senior (or non-...


39

I strongly disagree with the "find a list of open problems" approach. Usually open problems are quite hard to make progress on, and I'm thoroughly unconvinced that good research is done by tackling some hard but uninteresting problem in a technical area. That being said, of course solving an open problem is really good for academic credentials. But that's ...


27

Let me disagree with the other responses. While there are clearly notable examples of people who can transition to industry and back (see other answers), going to a non-research industrial position, even for a couple years, will make it very hard to return to academia, unless you're already very famous. The reason is not because academics look down on ...


24

In some fields (like e.g. Economics and Mathematics) single authored papers -are- a good thing to have when you go on the job market. In theoretical computer science, collaboration is much more common, and it is not unusual for even relatively senior researchers to have very few single authored papers. It is not at all suspicious if a student on the market ...


21

A friend of mine works on the combinatorics of Sturmian words, and did so for years. A Sturmian word is typically obtained from a straight line drawn on a lattice: whenever the line crosses an horizontal edge of the lattice, output an 1; whenever it crosses a vertical edge, output a 0. From my point of view, this is quite theoretical. Yet, my friend was ...


21

As someone who helps make hiring and grant decisions involving theoretical computer scientists, I don't care about affiliations. I only care about the quality and impact of the work. If you've been doing high-quality publishable research, you're hirable. If you haven't, you're not. Lots of theoretical computer scientists work in industrial research labs ...


17

Here is one "active" example I know of -- I hope he is not embarrassed... Andreas Bjorklund has been extraordinarily productive in TCS over the last several years, while maintaining a full-time job in industry. You may wish to contact him, to find out how he does it! At this point, I think his research record is impressive enough to gain a faculty position ...


16

Please read William Thurston's answer to the question What's a mathematician to do? on mathoverflow. Just to convince you that it is a must-read, let me quote him. The product of mathematics is clarity and understanding. Not theorems, by themselves. Is there, for example any real reason that even such famous results as Fermat's Last Theorem, or the ...


14

A number of theory faculty (David Karger, Tom Leighton, Shang-hua Teng among others) went to Akamai when it started, and then returned. Rina Panigrahy is not theory faculty, but worked at Cisco for many years before returning to "academia" in MSR. Ken Clarkson was at Lucent the whole time before going to IBM, but spent a number of years "essentially" in a ...


13

I have a CS Theory background and work in industry doing research at a consulting firm. We get hired by people who want to use various types of computer models and don't have the expertise to create them themselves. This is (partially) a research job because our clients typically have interests usually unaddressed in the academic literature, and so our ...


11

It really depends on what you mean with "higher algorithms". I work in game development, and we use graph theory, linear and nonlinear optimization, computational geometry, dynamic programming, and lots of other fun stuff. If you work in robotics, simulations, industrial control software, aerospace industry, etc., there will be plenty of stuff that ...


9

A lot of the senior Computer Scientists in Britain have had industrial experience before they came to work in academics. Christopher Strachey, the founder of denotational semantics, was a consultant programmer before entering academics. Tony Hoare, the founder of axiomatic semantics, worked in industry (Eliott Computers) for several years. Samson Abramsky,...


8

David Hilbert is a renowned mathematician. He put forth a list of 23 unsolved problems at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Paris in 1900. I just want to quote part of Yuri Manin interview entitled "Good Proofs are Proofs that Make us Wiser" about Hilbert and his list: This year’s International Congress is the last ICM in this century. Do ...


8

I am really not qualified to give an informed answer to your question, but there are many reasons for which a theory-oriented researcher might be a good fit for a more applied environment. The main reason that comes to mind is this: good theoretic foundations are invaluable for a thorough understanding of an application which in turn increases trust, ...


8

You asked three questions: Q1 is really out of scope for this forum: it relates to GATE and how you gain admission to Indian grad schools. Q2 I interpret as "do I need a graduate degree to study theoretical computer science". In general, of course the answer is "no", but the discipline of studying at the grad level (with the access to professors and other ...


7

In addition to the points given in the other answers, I think any CS department offering an Undergraduate programme must have a reasonable number of faculty from the various CS communities, irrespective of what its broad leanings. Otherwise, a new student joining the department would naturally get aligned with the departments focus, without much of a choice. ...


6

I struggled with the same question while pursuing my undergrad in CS. I performed a fair amount of research, but currently work as a software engineer. I can tell you that for the most part, you won't do too much theoretical CS in the industry (assuming a typical SE, not something tailored for R&D or the like). You may want to consider looking into R&...


6

There are plenty of places that need algorithmic research in practical applications. Just to give you some examples: My current company makes a specialised machine learning supercomputer. Most of our engineers have primarily academic background; in fact, this is a particular challenge for us, since many of them are not used to doing software engineering, ...


6

There is also cstheory-jobs.org, which in principle seems like a great clearinghouse for CS Theory jobs, but appears to be underutilized. Job posters, advertise here!


5

There are the obvious academic positions. Apart from that, many industrial research (or research-like) labs are very interested in hiring theoreticians who are comfortable applying theoretical foundations to solving problems as well as coming up with new theorems. Theoreticians also find positions (though may be not as many) in financial institutions as "...


5

In my experience (a few decades of "business" style IT, having studied CS myself) there were very few occasions where we actually programmed "interesting" algorithms, and a majority of my colleagues did not have a real CS background - if they studied it, then theoretical CS certainly did not interest them that much, judging by our non-...


5

If TCS is something you enjoy, and you want to pursue a PhD, I wouldn't let the fear of failure stop you. You can also mitigate some of the risk by enrolling in a program that awards you a Master's after a year or two -- that way, if you realize research isn't for you, you won't come out "empty-handed". And if you don't succeed in landing a research job ...


5

I'm aware of at least two perfect places. Paris and suburbs. You might want to check websites of David Baelde/Gilles Dowek (ENS Paris-Saclay), Delia Kesner (IRIF), Dale Miller (INRIA Saclay). Vienna. There is a strong group of Agata Ciabatoni and of Roman Kuznets. You also might check the list of the accepted papers for LICS/CSL/MFCS/FOSSACS/ESOP/JELIA ...


4

Know linear algebra well, say, at the level of Peter Lax' book (start with the first 9 chapters). Also, some basic real analysis and probability theory should be a good place to start.


4

Here is a tweet thread by Prof. Vijay about research for undergraduate students. Also, you can apply for a summer research internship in Europe. INRIA France, contact individual groups if they have an intern opening. Max-Planck Institute, Germany, Offering remote internship also, This year's deadline 31st Dec/31st Jan IST, Austria EPFL, Switzerland Edit 1: ...


4

In many places (certainly most of USA and Canada) a master's is not required before a PhD. There it is fine, and probably recommended, to just apply directly to PhD programs from undergrad. I am not sure if the situation is the same in the U.K. or elsewhere in Europe. In any case, it's a good idea to meet with one of your math/CS professors to ask for advice ...


3

As a young professor, I wondered the same thing! The short answer is that the ability to secure funding is more or less a requirement for promotion and tenure. This may not seem fair at first (it didn't to me!), but the university has expenses and needs the overhead. Anyway, this is the game I signed up to play, and the rules are quite explicit up-front. As ...


1

this is ultimately a subjective and personal question and "over the long run" what problems are considered important to some degree go in and out of scientific fashion, but there can be some rough common guidelines that many would agree with, and also top experts have considered the question. problems are quite ubiquitous and its more a process of narrowing ...


1

It had been argued that Theoretical Computer Science is a branch of mathematics, so it seems to me that any answer to this question would necessarily be primarily opinion-based. That said, in your place (and this is an uninformed opinion) I would steer clear of subfields in which a tremendous volume of technical work has been done, and in which coding plays ...


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