8 Myths about PhD & Research in CS
Warning : This is one hell of an arrogant & obnoxious post. If you feel like feeling offended, stop reading right now! (Did you notice that I did not even say ‘Please’ or ‘Kindly’?)
Myth#1 : A PhD is extended school “studies” – extended beyond tolerable limits!
Truth : I am NOT cramming books, writing suicide provoking answers in exams or submitting half-baked assignments every week here! And please, post-doc is NOT undergraduate courses extended to the limit! Anyone asking “For just how many more years do you intend to keep studying??” in spite of me politely explaining a dozen times that “I am not studying in the school sense, rather researching”, is asking to be pushed under the wheels of an auto-rickshaw at the very next opportune moment!
Myth#2 : Research is boring!
Truth : If it was, none of the researchers from Galileo to ‘Venki’ Ramakrishnan would have done what they did. Can you imagine life without electricity? Medicine? Aircrafts? Cars? Satellite TV? Computers? That beloved iPad? Or that inseparable mobile phone? If not, you better dare not call research boring!
Myth#3 : CS researchers sit at a dark corner of an attic/basement/garage 24×7 typing away to a computer that has a blinking screen with black background & green font.
Truth : We do sit typing away to a computer for long periods of time. But so do you. After all, YOU are the one at the other end of the chat session on google chat! 😛
Myth#4 : CS researchers write scary C++/Java code every waking minute. If you print the amount of code all CS researchers in this world churn out, you’d need to borrow cupboard space from Jupiter.
Truth : I don’t remember the last time I wrote 3000 lines of code. Actually, I do – it was an assignment that I did wrong. CS researchers – most of them, most often – think more, code less! And they do NOT remember every bit of syntax of every programming language and can NOT debug your code in less than 5 minutes!
Myth#5 : Feel the urge to hack into that frienemy’s GMail/Orkut account? Call that CS researcher (yes, the one swimming in caffeine in that dark corner of that attic)
Truth : Too late. You should have asked a teenage me – that was when I lost interest in hacking. Or please ask one of those “techies” around who blog only about how to get a piece of software to do what it was not designed to do! No offense to “techies”. . but please spare me these hacking requests. Hacking no longer arouses me!
Myth#6 : Need an antivirus software? Or need to purge your laptop of the zillion viruses that you have managed to attract? Call that jobless CS PhD student.
Truth : That jobless CS PhD student might just be so outdated with anything that concerns Microsoft Windows that she now fumbles to navigate the Office 2007 interface! Shocking, but true. Sad, but true. Come to terms with it. Or delete my contact details from your phone. Please. Right away.
Myth#7 : Researchers read loads of books. All these books have complicated scary formulae printed 5 per page. Or it could be huge diagrams or graphs or rows and rows of numbers with 8 digits after the decimal point. Apart from hundreds of pages of text that sounds swahili, that is.
Truth : Neither Ashok Banker’s Ramayana nor “How To Rule The World: A Handbook For The Aspiring Dictator” has any of those. Sorry to disappoint you.
Myth#8 : That PhD student is busy at all times of the day because she is busy attending classes. After all, there would be more course work for higher ‘degree’s.
Truth : Actually, please continue believing that. Saves me a lot of pointless talk which generally involves countering the questions “When would you finish that PhD?”, “When would you come over to meet us?” and “When do you plan to get married?” with subtly sarcastic replies which you wouldn’t get most of the time!