The Department of Computer Science and Automation at the Indian Institute of Sciences held a one day workshop to provide an insight to faculty and students into the PhD programme. Luckily, I'm interning here at the department and had the chance to attend it!
Here's the schedule that was followed:
Ph.D. IN COMPUTER SCIENCE: A PERSPECTIVEA ONE-DAY WORKSHOPORGANIZED BY THEDEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND AUTOMATIONSUPPORTED BYUNIVERSITY GRANTS COMMISSION, GOI, NEW DELHIVISVESVARAYA TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY, BELGAUMSATISH DHAWAN AUDITORIUMINDIAN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE
Friday, July 2, 2010
PROGRAMME08.00 - 08.50 : Registration and Coffee09.00 - 09.30 : Inauguration By`` Prof. H.P. Khincha, Vice-Chancellor, VTU, Belgaum```` Prof. Anurag Kumar, Chair, Electrical Sciences, IISc``09.30 - 10.15 : The Ph.D. Process - Part 1`` Prof. Y. Narahari``10.15 - 11.00 : The Ph.D. Process - Part 2`` Prof. Jayant Haritsa``
11.00 - 11.30 : Coffee11.30 - 12.15 : High Performance Computing`` Prof. R. Govindarajan and Prof. Matthew Jacob``12.15 - 13.00 : Machine Learning`` Prof. Shirish Shevade``
13.00 - 14.00 : Lunch14.00 - 14.45 : Theoretical Computer Science`` Dr. V. Vinay``14.45 - 15.30 : Systems`` Prof. K. Gopinath``15.30 - 16.15 : Programming Languages`` Dr. Sriram Rajamani``
16.15 - 16.30 : Coffee16.30 - 18.00 : Interactive Discussion`` Coordinator: Prof. D.K. Subramaniam``
I'm only a 7th semester UG student at the moment, but I made it a point to attend as much as my mind could take. I attended everything apart from the last "Interactive Discussion" program ;)
Since I intend to do a Masters (and hopefully a PhD) once I graduate, I made lengthy notes on the event. The slides used by the various professors will be put up on the department site in a few days. I'm going to summarize the introduction here.
The introductory speeches (I don't know what else to call them, "talks"??) were most interesting. I had never been told or shown PhD from such a clear perspective.
The first thing they emphasized on was that research done during a PhD is not to mean re-searching the already available knowledge. Rather, it is more to do with creating knowledge. (I had never thought of it like that!) We were then introduced shortly to Richard Hamming. They suggested his work, "You and your research", as a read. I then learnt the difference between Applied Research(Edison) and Fundamental Research(Niels Bohr). (They had a graph mapping "consideration of use" to "fundamental research, getting down to the core" too but I'm too lazy to make one and put it up). The introduction itself contained a few example PhD "problems" from "GAME Theory". These were used to give us a feel of what PhD research topics are like. (I was thoroughly enjoying this!!) They even went ahead and explained the characteristics of a good research topic, and explained what one needs to do this research well (Ingredients of a successful research). From what I noted down, one needs : a strong academic background, 6-8 courses (ideally), good textbooks, a good knowledge of the current state of the art, abstract, analytical modelling, sound experimentation.
Before this, I had only seen PhD theses on line at the ACM portal or other places. Luckily, they went on to explain what a typical PhD thesis was structured like. They made it clear that they didn't intend to make it look like a flower bed when they went ahead and clearly enumerated the challenges that you face when researching. Apart from a huge amount of literature to read through, and time management and other factors, I learnt that a good Advisor is a must. I learnt what the correct attitude should be. It also involved welcoming criticism, something that I already do (I was pleased to know that my attitude is somewhat along the required lines already).
This was the introductory talk. Specific branches were tackled after this. Writing down my views on those would take me an entire night!!
It was a completely new take I saw. I'm more than glad that I had the chance to attend this Workshop. I'll put up links to the matter used once they're available on the site.