From Prof. Hung Q. Ngo’s blog, University of Buffalo.
Hello everyone. Thanks very much for attending my talk. I’m honored to be invited and humbled to be sandwiched between these two hugely successful gentlemen. I actually had no idea what this talk is supposed to be about until roughly a week ago when Tường sent me an email with the following excerpt
Dear anh Hung, Blah blah blah ... In the current agenda, the title of your part in the plenary session is "academic careers". This is really a broad topic under the "All the way home" session name.
That is why you will hear something vaguely in the realm of “academic careers,” about which I have no authority whatsoever.
Why in the world did I agree to go give a talk when I didn’t even know the title, and even after knowing the title I am less than qualified to give it? Here’s why:
- Amount I was paid: $400
- The round-trip Amtrak ticket from Buffalo to Troy: $128
- A chance to network with the future of Vietnam’s science and technology: priceless
(As you can see, I watched too much TV.)
Alright, as I have already spent some of those $272 (exclusively on Starbucks coffees, of course) it is now time to cook up something. I have never given a non-technical talk before in my life. All of my technical talks have the following outline:
- Here’s an optimization problem with a wonderful real-world motivation
- Here’s how I modified it to become a version I can solve (which is a world away from the motivation)
- Here’s how I solved it.
- Future works (which are even further away from the real-world motivation)
Remember, the trick to get by in graduate school is, if you can’t solve a problem, modify it! If your advisor has not taught you this trick then you should change advisor. So I will stick with what I am comfortable with and follow the outline. There are three points I want to get across
- Academic career as an optimization problem
- Because of (1), beware of the opportunity costs
- Don’t think about an academic career as an optimization problem