Thursday, March 22, 2007

Call to Advisors

What can (should) advisors do when their students travel to give talks, in particular, interview talks? Check slides, practice the talk, time and tune it. Make sure there is at least one or two nice proofs and proof ideas (these days I hear talks that state the main theorem but don't tell me even an idea of how to prove them, what is novel). Make sure it fits the audience which is often broader than a theory-group in one's dept. Make the student do the homework. When a student performs poorly during an interview visit, it says something about their advisor.

A quote from a different time/place --- Kahlil Gibran in the other Crime and Punishment --- apologies for the preach.

And when one of you falls down he falls for those behind him,
a caution against the stumbling stone.

Ay, and he falls for those ahead of him, who though faster and surer of foot,
yet removed not the stumbling stone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one that always gets me angry at advisors is when students come without an answer to "Why did you choose this problem?" If you want a broader audience to pay attention to your talk, you'd better answer this in the first few slides, and the explicit question will almost surely come up in any effective interview.

The advisor's job on this isn't to give the student an answer to such a personal question, but to make sure (hopefully long before interview season) that the student has an authentic answer that they've thought through.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear, hear.

9:36 AM  

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