How to do research — The thesis


一个月前写的,还是贴出来了。

———————————————————–

How to do research — The thesis

2006-11-04

你的论文将会占用你研究生阶段绝大部分的时间。你需要投入大量大量的时间来作研究,甚至是去选择topic,而不是实际的写作。

硕士论文可以说是博士论文的联系,没有好好准备,是很难做好PhD-level的研究的。硕士论文主要是以文字的方式表明你的没mastery:你已经完全明白你自己领域的研究状况,并且你已经可以在那个层次上做些研究。这并不要求你能扩展the state of the art, 也不要求硕士论文能发表。

Choosing a topic is one of the most difficult and important parts of thesis work. A good thesis topic will simutaneously express a personal vision and participate in a conversation with the literature.

The hardest part is figuring out how to cut your problem down to a solvable size while keeping it big enough to be interesting. You will find you need to continually narrow your topic. Choosing a topic is gradual process, not a discrete event, and will continue up to the moment you declare the thesis finished. Acutally solving the problem is often easy in comparison to figuring out what exactly it is.

An ideal thesis topic has a sort of telescoping organization. It has a central portion you are pretty sure you can finish and that you and your advisor agree will meet the degree requirements. It should have various extensions that are successively riskier and that will make the thesis more exciting if they pan out. Not every topic will fit this criterion, but it’s worth trying for.

Choosing a Master’s topic can be harder than choosing the PhD topic, because it has to be done before you know very much and before you’re built much self-confidence.

One parameter of PhD topic choice is whether to continue working in the same subfield as your Master’s, perhaps extending or building on that work, or to switch to another subfield. Staying in the same field simplifies things and probably will take one to two years off the total time to graduation, especially if a PhD-sized topic becomes obvious during the course of the Master’s work. But it may leave you "typecast" as someone who does shape-from -shading or circuit analysis; changing fields gives you breadth.

Once you’ve got a thesis topic, even when it’s a bit vague, you should be able to answer the question "what’s the thesis of your thesis?" what are you trying to show? You should have one-sentence, one-paragraph, and five-minute answers. If you don’t know where you are going, people won’t take you seriously, and, worse, you’ll end up wandering around in circles.

There is a number ways you can waste a lot of time during the thesis. Some activities to avoid (unless they are central to the thesis): language design, user-interface or graphics hacking, inventing new formalisms, overoptimizing code, tool building, bureaucracy. Any work that is not central to your thesis should be minimized.

http://www.cs.indiana.edu/mit.research.how.to/section3.11.html

—————-

这篇太长了,讲了太多的都很有价值的东西,感觉一下子都无法变成自己的意识。

不过,看完后至少改变我对thesis topic的看法。整篇文章都在讲thesis topic很重要(当然从上一篇文章已经知道最主要的决定是如何选老板),因为这个毕竟最终要占据你博士阶段大部分的时间。以前觉得选topic就想去超市买菜一样,虽然不会那么轻率,但是也不是很值得那么重视。文章里指出,选择topic是一个逐渐的过程,而不是一个离散的时间。你会不停的narrow你的研究方向,突然有一天你会说that’s it, 然后你完成了你的thesis。毕竟发现你要研究的问题要比解决它困难的多。

看完这篇文章后,更让我觉得我当时换专业是对的。如果当时申请时还是申请machine learning or pattern recognition方面的,我真的可能会早毕业一两年,但是我这么做给了我breadth。我能明显感觉到我比我们lab的其它的同学更了解一些用在machine learning的一些基本方法或算法,还有一些其它理论知识。当时换了新的方向后,要学很多的新的东西,这样进展会慢许多。不过我相信最终都是有回报的。

现在我看来,可以将Visual Hull作为我master thesis的方向,我可以在2年的时间内完成它,在这两年内再逐渐找到自己的方向,然后把自己博士阶段的精力放到那个方向上面。

文章最后还讲了一些thesis avoidance, 举了一些会浪费时间的例子。自己的时间很宝贵,我很想在博士阶段做出很有成就感的东西,但并不意味着我想晚一些毕业。我需要好好安排我的时间,一些对研究不重要的事情就不要做,集中精力做最重要的事情。这也是我最近为什么不再看Qt的原因。

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s