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Research Skills I Learned in UIUC from Pi-Cheng Hsiu


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Research Skills I Learned in UIUC from Pi-Cheng Hsiu

  1. 1. Research Skills I learned in UIUC Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, National Taiwan University Nov. 6th, 2007 Pi-Cheng Hsiu
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>Pick a research area </li></ul><ul><li>Identify a research problem and solve it </li></ul><ul><li>Write a paper </li></ul><ul><li>Submit to a conference </li></ul><ul><li>Give a presentation </li></ul>05/28/10
  3. 3. Research Types <ul><li>Research is a re peat search process to find out the unknown. – Lui Sha </li></ul>05/28/10
  4. 4. Life of Ra (a Research Area) 05/28/10 – Indranil Gupta
  5. 5. Researcher Styles – Tarek Abdelzaher <ul><li>Salesman </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I have an idea to sell. What’s the market segment where it can make the most impact? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consultant </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on problem P from company X. How do I solve P? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Matchmaker </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Idea A in field X is a really good match to problem B in field Y. Apply A to B. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Journalist </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is this an interesting topic today? Create a new direction. </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  6. 6. Key to Finding Your Research Area <ul><li>Match your interest/passion (theory vs. system) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But don ’ t limit yourself within your comfortable zone </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Talk with other people and get feedback </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But have you own insights </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Read best papers on top conferences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But do not always be a follower </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Study broadly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But be sure you know what the field is really about </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  7. 7. Outline <ul><li>Pick a research area </li></ul><ul><li>Identify a research problem and solve it </li></ul><ul><li>Write a paper </li></ul><ul><li>Submit to a conference </li></ul><ul><li>Give a presentation </li></ul>05/28/10
  8. 8. Keep in Mind <ul><li>It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li> – Robert H. Goddard </li></ul><ul><li>Don ’ t try to “ solve the world ” or “ boil the ocean ” . </li></ul>05/28/10
  9. 9. The Tough Part <ul><li>Finding a problem is 90% of the problem. – P. R. Kumar </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Open problems (e.g., P = NP?) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What is solvable? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mature areas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What is unknown? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emerging areas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What is promising? </li></ul></ul></ul>05/28/10
  10. 10. Identifying the Problem <ul><li>Identifying problems is more important than finding solutions </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>– Y. Y. Zhou </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Define the boundaries of your problem carefully </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Nobody will be impressed if you set the bar too low and jump over it. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Nobody will be impressed if you set the bar too high and don ’ t jump over it. (Dave Redell) </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  11. 11. Sharpen Your Tools <ul><li>Take a solid set of foundational courses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Math courses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Graph Theory, Combinatorics, Algebra, Probability Theory, Stochastic Processes, Algorithms, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Computer Science courses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Programming Language, Operating Systems, Computer Architecture, Computer Networks, Compiler, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Technical English Writing </li></ul>05/28/10
  12. 12. Core of Learning (Edgar Dale) <ul><li>After 2 weeks, we tend to remember: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>10% of what we </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>20% of what we </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>30% of what we </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>50% of what we </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>70% of what we </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>90% of what we </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The more energy that I put into a subject, the more I can remember. </li></ul><ul><li> – Lui Sha </li></ul>05/28/10 read hear see (pictures) hear and see say say and do
  13. 13. Outline <ul><li>Pick a research area </li></ul><ul><li>Identify a research problem and solve it </li></ul><ul><li>Write a paper </li></ul><ul><li>Submit to a conference </li></ul><ul><li>Give a presentation </li></ul>05/28/10
  14. 14. Keep in Mind <ul><li>You could write a great paper even with research that is just ok. You can also write a bad paper despite good research. </li></ul><ul><li>– A. Bhatele, P. Jetley, and A. Becker in UIUC </li></ul>05/28/10
  15. 15. Core Document <ul><li>Mary Shaw, Writing Good Software Engineering Research Papers . In Proc. of the 25th International Conference on Software Engineering (ICSE 2003), p726-736. </li></ul><ul><li>Answer Mary Shaw ’ s questions first </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps you refine ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps you communicate ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps you organize paper writing </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  16. 16. Key to Writing <ul><li>Find a model paper </li></ul><ul><li>Follow the three Bs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brevity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Say it simply. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Balance </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Balance the formal with the informal. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Benefit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Write for the benefit of your audience. </li></ul></ul></ul>05/28/10 – Tanya L. Crenshaw
  17. 17. Paper Organization <ul><li>Abstract: 100-150 words </li></ul><ul><li>Introduction: be brief! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Related work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Body of paper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Problem (sufficient motivation & at least one scenario) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Approach, architecture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Experiment results </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conclusion and future work </li></ul>05/28/10
  18. 18. Abstract (general rules) <ul><li>No references </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid use of “in this paper” </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid general motivation in the abstract </li></ul><ul><li>Highlight not just the problem, but also the principal results </li></ul><ul><li>Have terms that identify your work since abstract will be used by search engines </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The name of any protocol or system developed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The general area </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Avoid questions and math </li></ul>05/28/10
  19. 19. Introduction (recipe) <ul><li>Paragraph 1: Motivation (high level) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set the larger context </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Paragraph 2: Explain problem </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Establish specific context and background </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Paragraph 3: Compare/contrast related work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s the general approach taken? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show respect for peer-reviewed results </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Paragraph 4: Sell your work (**) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Put your theme sentence here </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Summarize your contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why are the specific results significant? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Paragraph 5: Outline the paper </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Avoid redundant phrasing </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  20. 20. Body of Paper (tips) <ul><li>Avoid jargon </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Define before using unless well known </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Follow common terms </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t use a common term for your own definition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t use your own term for a common definition </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Balance formal and informal </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ã x (A(x)) > Ã y (A(y)) vs. “x is better than y” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Prefer simple to complicated </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ now” versus “at this point in time” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Obscure and pretentious use of language </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t show off. Clarity is most important. </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  21. 21. A Good Way to Learning How to Write <ul><li>Review papers and then learn what you think good and remember what you think bad. </li></ul><ul><li>– P.-C. Hsiu </li></ul>05/28/10
  22. 22. Outline <ul><li>Pick a research area </li></ul><ul><li>Identify a research problem and solve it </li></ul><ul><li>Write a paper </li></ul><ul><li>Submit to a conference </li></ul><ul><li>Give a presentation </li></ul>05/28/10
  23. 23. Prior Review (writers’ workshop) <ul><li>Designed for students to get early feedback from their peers </li></ul><ul><li>Send the draft to the other members </li></ul><ul><li>Meet to discuss </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Members discuss what they didn’t understand and didn’t like </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The author is present but remains silent </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  24. 24. Where to Submit to <ul><li>Good ones top ones, but reasonable ones </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t submit just for kicks. Spoils your reputation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Don’t submit to a lower conference if you feel the paper can do well at a better conference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask your advisor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Go to conferences, make friends and contacts, and ask your friends about “reputation” of a conference </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Submit to journals! Takes a long time, but is very important! </li></ul>05/28/10
  25. 25. Outline <ul><li>Pick a research area </li></ul><ul><li>Identify a research problem and solve it </li></ul><ul><li>Write a paper </li></ul><ul><li>Submit to a conference </li></ul><ul><li>Give a presentation </li></ul>05/28/10
  26. 26. Sha ’ s I 3 Model <ul><li>An ideal presentation is one that is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Informative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interesting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Insightful </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  27. 27. Being Informative <ul><li>Give new knowledge (audience-oriented) </li></ul><ul><li>“ New” is relatively to your audience . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>what they already know? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>what they should know after your presentation? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>what are the steps in-between? </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  28. 28. Being Interesting <ul><li>Unexpected, counter intuitive, and difficult to believe </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Seemingly unimportant fact that actually holds the key. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Seemingly true but it is in fact false. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A “difficult” problem is solved with ease and elegance. </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  29. 29. Being Insightful <ul><li>Impart a deeper understanding </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Explain a seemingly complex and confusing problem in a way that is easy to understand. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Unearth hidden/unstated assumptions and quickly put an argument to rest. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Show things in new angles, new lights and new forms and gain new understandings. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate subtle but important connections/inter-dependencies between seemingly unrelated subjects. </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  30. 30. An Example <ul><li>Using simplicity to control complexity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bubble sort: robust but slow </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quick sort: vulnerable but fast </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How to have both? </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  31. 31. Is There a Perfect Agenda? <ul><li>Generalized rules always have exceptions . </li></ul>05/28/10 Made by Mu Sun
  32. 32. Truths <ul><li>A rolling stone gathers no moss </li></ul><ul><li>Luck favors the one who is prepared </li></ul><ul><li>Practice makes perfect </li></ul>05/28/10
  33. 33. Conclusion <ul><li>The entrance to graduate school marks a critical phase of transition for most graduate students from absorbing knowledge to creating knowledge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>– Lui Sha </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Basically, a PhD degree means you are equipped to do all the following </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. Pick an arbitrary area (not necessarily in CS) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Understand it yourself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. Identify problems in it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4. Solve these problems in an innovative manner </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>– Indranil Gupta </li></ul></ul>05/28/10
  34. 34. Reference <ul><li> </li></ul>05/28/10
  35. 35. Vote <ul><li>Q1: If you had taken this course, do you suggest it be consider a regular course? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes vs. No = 41: 0 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Q2: Do you want our department to have a similar course? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Yes vs. No = 41: 0 </li></ul></ul>05/28/10