Monday, December 8, 2014

You've got a problem?

I'm at that point in research where anyone and everyone who has an inkling of what research entails is highly curious on which problem am going devote my undivided attention in order to earn my PhD. And in true competitive exam style I give them any one of the following options :

a) stare weakly at them and say am working in AI which is true for 75% of the total scholars in department
b) say I am definitely better off than before
c) quote everyone else's work that I have read and appear to be well-informed
d) change the subject

That is because I feel awed by committing to a single problem for so long. Is it worth the effort? Am I wasting time? What if? What not?

Basically how does one "choose" a problem?

I think a problem is something akin to what Dr. Abdul Kalam said, a dream that isn't what you get when you sleep, but that which doesn't let you sleep. By that definition, several kinds of problems appeal to me - things that have wide applicability, things that require an elegant solution and things which are mysterious and you are curious how they work.

For example, Google was a pervasive solution. The safety pin was an elegant solution. And understanding the phases of the moon such that it fits all the observations is a mind blowing explosion of knowledge.

So yes, I haven't fixated on a problem. I haven't even decided what kind of problem to address. But I know it is one that is going to keep me excited for a long time to come.

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