How to be a computer systems graduate student

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How to be a computer systems graduate student Richard Martin 10/2000

How to be a computer systems graduate student Richard Martin 10/2000

Motivation n Not many resources to learn how to be a successful grad student

Motivation n Not many resources to learn how to be a successful grad student n n Easy to get lost This talk: a broad picture for success n 10/2000 Give food for thought on how to pursue grad school career © R. P. Martin

Outline n Know Thyself n n n Picking a topic The grind: making it

Outline n Know Thyself n n n Picking a topic The grind: making it happen n n take ownership of your degree Investigate Explore Evaluate Getting resources Communicate your results 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Know thyself n n Answer: why are YOU getting a Ph. D? Prerequisite to

Know thyself n n Answer: why are YOU getting a Ph. D? Prerequisite to a research career n n Personal development n n University/Industrial/Government labs learn to write, speak, critical thinking Learn the “Art” of computer systems design, analysis and evaluation n 10/2000 Why is a system better? More enduring? © R. P. Martin

Bad reasons n n Nothing better to do F-1 Job ticket Grad student lifestyle

Bad reasons n n Nothing better to do F-1 Job ticket Grad student lifestyle 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Take ownership n No one is responsible for getting your degree but you. n

Take ownership n No one is responsible for getting your degree but you. n Many obstacles n n lack of space, equipment, advisor’s time System researchers must work with others n n n 10/2000 Advisor, staff, other students Output of focused group >> lone wolf BUT pick a work style and lab culture that fits you © R. P. Martin

Outline n Know Thyself n n n Picking a topic The grind: making it

Outline n Know Thyself n n n Picking a topic The grind: making it happen n n take ownership of your degree Investigate Explore Evaluate Getting resources Communicate your results 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Picking a topic n n Always have a current research topic, ”proposition” or idea

Picking a topic n n Always have a current research topic, ”proposition” or idea Start small n n Ask advisor, senior students for ideas Later, come up with own n n 10/2000 Part of a Ph. D is acquiring “taste” Differentiate what’s cool from junk © R. P. Martin

The misnomer ---Computer Science n Science (results research) n n n Engineering (idea research)

The misnomer ---Computer Science n Science (results research) n n n Engineering (idea research) n n Evaluation and quantification of existing phenomena modeling how the world works Building useful tools Systems research is a mix of both! n 10/2000 Know how your topic fits into ideas, results, or both © R. P. Martin

Results driving ideas n Result: programs exhibit locality è n Result: most programs are

Results driving ideas n Result: programs exhibit locality è n Result: most programs are simple è è Idea: cache Idea: RISC Result: Traffic is self-similar è 10/2000 Idea: ? © R. P. Martin

Picking a topic n Have some religion about your idea or result n n

Picking a topic n Have some religion about your idea or result n n Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas n n n Will greatly help when the going gets tough Feedback from sharing >> cost of theft Getting people interested in your idea will be much harder than getting them to “steal” it. Most ideas are dead ends, few endure n n 10/2000 learn to discard bad ideas quickly learn to recognize a great ideas © R. P. Martin

Stay on top of events n Follow conferences n n Read trade rags n

Stay on top of events n Follow conferences n n Read trade rags n n sosp, sigmod, isca, asplos, sigcomm … infoworld, slashdot. com, news. com, techweb. com, wired … Learn who are the opinion leaders in your field, know what they are doing n 10/2000 But question the established order too … © R. P. Martin

Outline n Know Thyself n n n Picking a topic The grind: making it

Outline n Know Thyself n n n Picking a topic The grind: making it happen n n take ownership of your degree Investigate Explore Evaluate Getting resources Communicate your results 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Investigate n Has your idea been done before? n n n know what are

Investigate n Has your idea been done before? n n n know what are in classic papers Why is your idea “better”? Why will your result be important? Who will care? Final impact if you’re successful? 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Explore your idea n 3 Approaches to systems research: n Build a prototype n

Explore your idea n 3 Approaches to systems research: n Build a prototype n n n Build a simulation n To do right is very hard Ultimate validation Not as hard but is it credible? Build a measurement apparatus A sufficient analysis background is critical to all 3 approaches 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Evaluate your idea n n How is your idea better? Result novel? Measure it

Evaluate your idea n n How is your idea better? Result novel? Measure it n n Latency, throughout, fault tolerance space (still an issue? ) usability, manageability (new!) Judgment on artistic merit n 10/2000 Is your result or idea exciting? E. g. Cray-1, Unix, Risc, Fortran, self-similarity © R. P. Martin

Scientific method vs computer scientific method n Scientific method n n Control 1 parameter

Scientific method vs computer scientific method n Scientific method n n Control 1 parameter at a time, observe results Computer scientific method n n 10/2000 Change everything If data doesn’t fit your intuition, throw it away! © R. P. Martin

No magic n n n What if it doesn’t work? no magic, everything can

No magic n n n What if it doesn’t work? no magic, everything can be figured out Form a hypothesis n n n Cross-check with other evidence test with a simple experiment Find who’s done it before or built it and ask them 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Newer evaluation points n How will your idea mesh with the installed base? n

Newer evaluation points n How will your idea mesh with the installed base? n n What are the switching costs over the current or obvious solutions? n n Huge deployment costs? Is your idea 10 x better today? How will predictable technology advances impact your idea? n 10/2000 Will your idea be 10 x better in 5 years? © R. P. Martin

Resources n n So you have a great idea? Need resources! n Human cycles

Resources n n So you have a great idea? Need resources! n Human cycles n n n Space Machine cycles n 10/2000 Funding for you! Equipment © R. P. Martin

Funding n Teaching Assistantship (T. A. ) n n n Graduate Assistantship (G. A.

Funding n Teaching Assistantship (T. A. ) n n n Graduate Assistantship (G. A. ) n n Allow you to try grad. school Ready to move on to … also Research Assistant (R. A) Internships 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Funding Sources n Multi-year grants n n n Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)

Funding Sources n Multi-year grants n n n Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) National Science Foundation(NSF) Year-to-year n n n 10/2000 Corporate (Cisco, IBM, Siemens, Intel …) USENIX (student applied) Rutgers/NJ © R. P. Martin

Space n n Lack of space a problem in many CS departments Find an

Space n n Lack of space a problem in many CS departments Find an Advisor n n Hill 429 your home? You’ll get more disk space too! n 10/2000 5 MB on Paul? © R. P. Martin

Equipment n Find an Advisor n n Scrounge for 90 Mhz mac? Ask your

Equipment n Find an Advisor n n Scrounge for 90 Mhz mac? Ask your Advisor n n 10/2000 If you have good reasons, advisor can work to make things appear Corallary: you have to deliver! © R. P. Martin

Outline n Know Thyself n n n Picking a topic The grind: making it

Outline n Know Thyself n n n Picking a topic The grind: making it happen n n take ownership of your degree Investigate Explore Evaluate Getting resources Communicate your results 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Communicate your ideas n Clear communication defines the top students from the average n

Communicate your ideas n Clear communication defines the top students from the average n n n Talks n n posters Papers n n n Critically important since dawn of science What’s a brilliant result if unknown for 100 years? “If you didn’t write it down, it didn’t happen” “Publish or perish”? Software releases 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Talks: verbal communication n “Ad” for your work n n n Practice, practice n

Talks: verbal communication n “Ad” for your work n n n Practice, practice n n Good talk: people spread the word A bad talk diverts people’s attention Use video, mirror get feedback from advisor, other students, visit go to talks, use good ones as models A poster is really a mini-talk n 10/2000 10 minute one-on-one © R. P. Martin

Papers: written communication n 3 kinds: n n n Conference, Journal, Tech. Reports, Class

Papers: written communication n 3 kinds: n n n Conference, Journal, Tech. Reports, Class projects are good practice Start as soon as you’re far enough along to communicate results! n n 10/2000 Ask advisor for model papers Get feedback on your paper © R. P. Martin

Software releases n Software use can be the ultimate test of an idea n

Software releases n Software use can be the ultimate test of an idea n n n Pros: n n vote with their mice E. g. Unix, X, mosaic, Tcl/Tk, Magic feedback, fame, personal satisfaction Cons: n 10/2000 Support, documentation, upgrades, users, fame © R. P. Martin

Conclusion n You can do systems research n n n Take control of your

Conclusion n You can do systems research n n n Take control of your degree Tenacity is key Pick a topic you believe in and stick with it. 10/2000 © R. P. Martin

Further reading How to Be a Good Graduate Student by Marie des. Jardins http:

Further reading How to Be a Good Graduate Student by Marie des. Jardins http: //www. cs. indiana. edu/how. 2 b. html So long, and thanks for the Ph. D. ! by Ronald T. Azuma http: //www. cs. unc. edu/~azuma/hitch 4. html 10/2000 © R. P. Martin