21 September 2009

Manuel Blum's Advice to new Grad Students

I liked this collection of advice to grad students. Some quotes:
  • Books are not scrolls. [...] Permit yourself to open a book and start reading from anywhere. In the case of mathematics or physics or anything especially hard, try to find something anything that you can understand.
  • Consider writing what you read as you read it. This is especially true if you're intent on reading something hard.
  • I once asked Umesh Vazirani how he was able, as an undergraduate at MIT, to take 6 courses each and every semester. He said that he knew he didn't have the time to work out his answers the hard way. He had to find a shortcut. You see, Umesh understood that problems often have short clever solutions.