Sunday, August 13, 2006

On the Defense

Sometimes I find myself in a situation where I have to defend algorithms-research from non-algorithmers (non-algorithmii?). This happens during work dinners, academic conferences, coffee breaks; while making a recruiting pitch; while conversating with colleagues at Universities and research labs; and with bosses or managers. Here are some standard attacks to prepare oneself:

-- [In TCS: Complexity Theorists] Algorithms researchers use a special technique for a specific problem, no general techniques for all problems of a class.
-- [In CS, Outside TCS: CS Systems] Algorithms research focuses so much on optimizing the answer! Much of the systems creativity is in formulating the key problems/issues and 80% optimal with 20% effort is good enough.
-- [Outside CS: Mathematicians, Statisticians] The theorems are stated so informally! Also, Algorithms researchers give glamorous names for simple things.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should add to that:

--[In CS, Outside TCS: AI] but your results are worst case. We care about the average case.

and while they tend to abuse this criticism, lo-and-behold sometimes they are right e.g. quicksort.

10:59 PM  
Blogger Michael Mitzenmacher said...

Muthu --

What we really want is your standard response to these attacks, to better defend ourselves!

5:43 AM  
Blogger metoo said...

Let us pick each others brains at SIGCOMM in Pisa.

6:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[In Industry, Outside Academia] You academics are a bunch of wankers. Give me something that makes money.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[In a party: Humanities Student] Computers are for nerds!

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[At work: Humanities student] Do you want fries with that?

1:23 PM  

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