Monday, January 31, 2011

Some old advice from Andy Yao

When I was a graduate student, I had the good luck to do some research with Andy Yao. Here is, as best as I can remember, one piece of advice that he once gave me and that I have repeated to students a number of times since then:

When you get a paper accepted to a good conference, the main effect is that it buys you some time: some number of weeks or months during which the pressure to publish is off and you can focus on exciting but very hard open problems. Thus, your work should be organized to achieve a balance between projects that will probably improve your vita, and projects that will most likely not get you anywhere in the short term, but that are important in the long term.

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