A few words after reading Elvis’s series

2007/10/09

Elvis has posted a series of fantastic articles about cause-and-effect relationship. It is good not because he has mentioned any incredible arguments over the difficulties of performing simulation, but because he can convey a complex idea clearly and structurally. I have learnt most, if not all, of the science background mentioned in the passage, and I have been thinking about such kind of questions for a long time. More importantly, in some chapters, I could more or less guess what he will mention in the following chapter. The only problem for me is, I could not convey my idea as systematic as Elvis did. In the postlude, he mentioned the target audience is high school student, he tried to use the simplest word the explain those complex theories, if I were able to read this in my high school time, for sure I would be fascinated by him.

Leona mentioned in her blog that his research interest is about simulations of warfare, and methods to minimize the cost of military exercises. I guess during his research, he must have encountered those questions posed in the series. He should have thought of these questions for a long time, or else it won’t be possible for one to write such a breathtaking series.

It is always difficult to tell other what I am doing in my research. This is one of conversation common topic when I meet a new person. For one without computer background, I would say I am trying to make computers run faster. For one with some computer background (like an student in engineering/math major), I would say I work in AI, or in Combinatorical Optimization. For one with mediocre computer background, I would say I work in searching. For one with sufficient AI knowledge, I would say I work in Constraint Programming. For one who has some knowledge in CP, I would say I am now working on symmetry breaking…..

For most of the time, the conversation stops at AI, especially for those without technical background. But the problem is that there is always someone who is very eager to learn more about my research area, and (s)he would expect me to summarize what I have learnt in the previous two years into ten sentences. It would be great if I can, but for most of the time I fail. It is impossible to explain methods that can prune symmetric subtrees to one who has no idea about Breadth-first-search / Depth-search-search.

Maybe simply because I am not a good presenter. I always admire those can convey his/her knowledge clearly in layman language. I have thought of introducing Constraint Programming here, being lazy myself, I need to mention a lot of fundamental but sometimes boring concept in computer science, and hence I gave up.

I want to find a way give an introduction to my research area within one minutes. I am sure Elvis can do this. I wish I can in the near future.

Lastly, no matter what your science background is, it really worths to spend some time to read that series.

廣告

9 回應 to “A few words after reading Elvis’s series”

  1. 惡女 Says:

    –>「For one without computer background, I would say I am trying to make computers run faster.」

    係呀係呀,你咪就係咁同我講咯。
    我仲話,做研究,咪好孤獨囉。

  2. Max Says:

    Yay! 我都有睇,真係寫得好好呀。
    如果有一日我可以清清楚楚寫下我而家做緊乜就好了…

  3. leona Says:

    只要你對住自己的題目long enough,很快就可以用三言兩語總結研究題目
    況且你已懂"因材施教",很不錯啊–畢竟不是很多人真的對人家的研究題有興趣,講得太深入了說不定令人厭呢

    Elvis當初向我講自己的研究興趣,也是很籠統地就那麼一句話啊
    他若對你說,或對卡夫卡那樣的人說,大概要花一小時,或以上

    不必神化他:)

  4. 黑人 Says:

    同意leona

    elvis 已經夠神神化化了,不要神化他 ;P

    這種情況也可以發生在任何專門的行業,例如小弟有些同業,對一般人講就是砌稿佬/做graphic design/做廣告,反正一般人聽完都是不懂
    深入些才說是印刷、web、video graphics、branding、typographer

    側田上次描寫那次太平冰室聚會,也展露了類似的能力
    加油!

  5. Yun Says:

    Argh… I have never able to tell people what do I do. I answered people base on my mood and creativity at the time. 😛

    You should write more in English!

    Elvis… 乜原來連男生都咁迷佢架。哈哈! 😛

  6. cowmoo Says:

    so strong………….I don’t even have a research area yet

  7. readandeat Says:

    又係講佢?車。不看了。

  8. Siu Sun Says:

    If you can’t make a layman understand what you study of, this means that you don’t really understand your subject. – Richard Feynman

    It is the method that Richard Feynman to examin his own study. He once gave a series of lectures to a group of house wives (C9) on the subject of quantum mechanics.

  9. Justin Says:

    惡女:應該可以將我做既野講得有趣啲既,只係我仲未諗到。

    Max: 我諗要寫得出咁清楚既文,仲要識得揀乜野係要既乜野係唔要既野,有時我發覺得寫野時就係開叉得太多,乜都想寫曬落去,但其實咁人地睇落會覺得好亂。

    Leona: 我原本只係諗住寫篇野講話要適量咁取材去有系統咁介紹一些事係唔容易既事,佢呢篇長文真係寫得好好。

    如果覺得我在神化他,就只怪我既英文唔好⋯⋯

    黑人:謝!我正在學習中!

    Yun: yes…i should write more in english!!!

    Cow: you r only the first year!! 使乜急!

    讀寫:佢呢個series真係寫得好好嫁!!!

    Siu Sun: totally agree! my current aim is, i can explain my research to a computer science student in 5 mins.


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