[Haskell-cafe] finding "good work" in CS

Dennis Raddle dennis.raddle at gmail.com
Sat Dec 7 23:54:21 UTC 2013

It's me again, guy aged 45 thinking about doing graduate work in CS.

I read this ebook about a guy's CS PhD, "The PhD Grind":


It was enlightening. I used to think that software in the C.S. academic
world must be well-written, seeing as it was written by computer
scientists. (I didn't like the poorly organized and simple-minded code
involved in my last job at NASA.) Turns out that academic code can be very
poor indeed, sometimes just a hacked prototype meant to demonstrate an idea
to get it published. It may be the youngest PhD students who are assigned
the job of cranking out such prototypes.

So what do I want to do for my life's work, once I can overcome this
illness and get back to work full-time?

I hope I can work with beauty in some form. I find Haskell to be beautiful,
for instance. I like ideas, but I also like the process of implementing
ideas in a quality way. I may not be suited to the academic world because I
need to spend at least some of my time as a craftsman of code, doing
something well.

Is there an area with CS academia that is more about elegance, less about
hacking up prototypes? The study of languages?

Second, what if I thought of PhD not as a way to enter academia, but as a
way to qualify me for the more interesting and creative C.S. jobs out
there? What kinds of C.S. jobs involve real creative control, an
opportunity to do things in an elegant way?

I know that's a very broad question, so maybe those reading could mention
single examples or things they've run into. No need to cover everything.

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