如何挖出有水的井

这张图出自1983年的高考作文题,后来多被用于传达“贵在坚持”的道理[1]。确实,大部分情况下,“坚持”的做法值得鼓励。但要注意的是,在科研过程中是否“坚持”,有两个层面需要考虑。第一个层面是,由于创新常常失败,要克服挫败感[2][3],坚持不断地探索。这个层面我是同意的。但另一个层面是如下场景,这时“贵在坚持”的做法并不适用:

要想在有限的时间内最大可能性地挖出有水的井,用何策略?

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Research taste

Learning to do research is not just about learning to use the essential techniques in the field. It also involves developing a taste of what directions are worth exploring and what directions are not.

I am still in the middle of my PhD, but looking back, the past few years have already changed me in the way I look at different research directions. Continue reading

Replacing monitors with projectors

If you study computer science but don’t use computers, you are screwed. I have eye problems with monitors and used to be reluctant to use computers. But luckily, I’m not screwed. I managed to set up computers without using monitors, so my long-lasting eye problems are solved. The solution is to use a projector instead of a monitor. Continue reading

时间

过去以为科研的流程是这样的:

1

但如果真的这样安排时间,那么在第一阶段往往就会遇到问题。 Continue reading

Learning curves

I recently summarized the related work for two research projects in two fields. As both fields were new to me, this experience allowed me to practice and to think about self education.

When learning about a new field, we hope to gain maximal knowledge in minimal time. Visualize this process with a learning curve. The key is to do the right things at the right time, depending on the field, our goals, and our current stage. Continue reading

Explain how facts are connected logically

It’s fun to read about novel information. Although “information” often reminds us of concrete facts like numbers or events, we actually expect to see other information when reading. One such information is the logical connection between the concrete facts.

One type of logical connections that many people expect to read is causality. Humans are attracted by causes and effects: scientists ask about the causes of observations; engineers use the effects of techniques to build systems; besides adults, even young children are attracted by causal information — remember how often kids ask “Why?”* Continue reading

Learning to learn

It might sound a bit stupid, but I just realized that a better reading strategy could help me learn faster, almost three times as fast as before.

To enter a research field, we sometimes have to read tens of research papers. We could alternatively read summaries like textbooks and survey papers, which are generally more comprehensive and more friendly for non-experts. But some fields don’t have good summaries out there, for reasons like the fields being too new, too narrow, or too broad. Continue reading