The Big Lie About the Life of the Mind

Earlier this year Thomas Benton wrote an essay The Big Lie About the ‘Life of the Mind, skewering academic humanities in the United States. His thesis is that there is effectively a conspiracy to produce many more PhDs than there are faculty slots, and to keep the carrot of the tenure-track faculty position just out […]

Why Take an Embedded Systems Course?

Embedded systems are special-purpose computers that users don’t think of as computers. Examples include cell phones, traffic light controllers, and programmable thermostats. In earlier posts I argued why any computer scientist should take a compilers course and an operating systems course. These were easy arguments to make since these areas are core CS: all graduates […]

Professor Value Added

If you buy a university-level instructor a beer and ask her to tell you how great the standardized course evaluation forms are, you’re likely to get an earful. I’m talking about the multiple-choice forms that students fill out towards the end of each course they take, asking them to assign a 1-5 rating to statements […]


Starting out as a professor can be intimidating: there’s a lot of work to do and little indication about how to prioritize it. Advice for assistant professors sometimes mentions the 40-40-20 guideline, which states that one should spend 40% of one’s time working on research, 40% on teaching, and 20% on service. This always seemed […]