Saturday, October 22, 2011


Cris Moore once tried to teach me some English idioms that I, not being a native English speaker, was not familiar with. For example:
You're barking up both ends of the wrong stick.
Never look a greek house in the mouth when he's down!
It took me a while to catch on to the fact that he was making fun of me by mixing and matching unrelated expressions.

Isn't this the way in which creative thoughts often come up in research? We're kicking around random ideas, then someone says: "How about using x for xx?" or "Does this x remind you of xx?", relating x and xx, two completely different areas, techniques or results. Such remarks can be the source of great, original papers. That is why, when we evaluate PhD applications, I tend to give a bonus to students who have a strength outside CS: my hope is that one day they'll find a way to leverage in research their non-standard knowledge and bring in ideas from their other field of expertise.

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