Other Stuff

Much knowledge and many skills are shared between good scientists of all disciplines. The corresponding shared need for learning is often neglected in favour of specialized topics. That is wrong: writing, reading, thinking, speaking are various modes of the same thing. As one author put it: "I write to know what I think." This is especially important to know for those with a weak command of English who choose computer science in the hope of minimizing the effect of their handicap. If you live under this mistaken hope you must realize that whatever natural language is the current one, you have to master it. Around here it is English. Take heart: it's not too late. Just make sure your English becomes good enough. Hence some suggestions on writing.

After reading, listening, and writing, perhaps talking is the most important; have a look at Ian Parberry's Speaker's Guide, somewhere on the web. He also has a Referee's Guide, which explains the entire publication process, so it's useful to any researcher, not just referees. We are richly blessed with books about famous people, biographies and autobiographies. Some of these are scientists or engineers. I think that some the ones I read have helped me become a scientist.

Somewhere we need to talk about mathematics, one of the great disappointments of civilization. Think of music. Wouldn't it be a tragedy if the only people who can enjoy music are those gifted enough to compose worthwhile new music? Fortunately this is far from being the case. Yet with mathematics it is nearly this bad. We need more people who appreciate mathematical thinking, but are not pursuing new mathematics. Who can apply the mental operations needed in mathematics in their own field. Like designing a programming language. Or writing an interface specification. Or even just programming.

In programming, you are up against Artificial Intelligence before you know it. And before you know it, you have innocently subscribed to some controversial philosophical position. So there.

How does that spaceship get in here?