Producing Good Software From Academia

Writing and maintaining good software from academia isn’t easy. I’ve been thinking about this because last week my student Yang Chen defended his thesis. While I’m of course very happy for him, I’m also depressed since Yang’s departure will somewhat decimate the capacity of my group to rapidly produce good code. Yang looked over my …

Do Not Just Run a Few More Reps

It’s frustrating when an experiment reveals an almost, but not quite, statistically significant effect. When this happens, the overwhelming temptation is to run a few more repetitions in order to see if the result creeps into significance. Intuitively, more data should provide more reliable experimental results. This is not necessarily the case. Let’s look at …

Computer Science Culture Clash

It’s not uncommon for an empirical CS researcher to get a review saying something like “Sure, these results look good, but we need to reject the paper since the authors never proved anything about the worst case.” Similarly, when I interviewed for faculty jobs ten years ago, a moderately famous professor spent a while grilling …

Minimum Pubs for a PhD in CS?

Some of the faculty in my department would prefer that we don’t award a PhD to any candidate who hasn’t published at least three good papers. I’m curious if this is common and if people generally have strong feelings either way about this kind of requirement? Some web searching turned up not much information: UConn …

Writing Solid Code

After 10 short years as a university-level CS instructor, I’ve finally figured out the course I was born to teach. It’s called “Writing Solid Code” and covers the following topics: Testing—There are lots of books on software testing but few that emphasize the thing I need students to learn, which is simply how to break …

University Economics and the End of Large Classes

I’ve been stalled on a draft of this piece for some time, but Amy Bruckman’s recent post provided the catalyst I needed to finish it up. She hypothesizes that “the future of universities is excelling at everything a MOOC is not.” Clearly universities can excel at activities that require students to be near each other and …

Of Course It’s an Interview

Arvind Narayanan wrote a mostly very good piece about some things that surprised him while interviewing for faculty jobs. One of them, “it’s not an interview,” was a surprise to me as well, since it’s wrong. There’s no doubt variation among individuals, but here are a few things I try to find out during a faculty …