Posts tagged academia

The A Means A

:: research, academia

I have argued about the definition of “ANF” many times. I have looked at the history and origins, and studied the translation, and spoken to the authors. And yet people insist I’m “quacking” because I insist that “ANF” means “A-normal form”, where the “A” only means “A”.

Here, I write down the best version of my perspective so far, so I can just point people to it.

What is peer reviewing?

:: academia

I’ve been doing, and experiencing, a lot of peer reviewing lately. I’ve been ranting about it on Twitter as I get reviews that don’t help me and, in many ways, hurt me, and lauding reviews that provide useful constructive feedback (even if I disagree with it or the decisions). I’ve been trying to figure out how to provide good reviews and avoid negative aspects of reviewing.

I need to get the thoughts out of my head. These are not declarations of what peer reviewing is or should be, but my attempt to work through those questions.

What is the Point of a Final Exam

:: academia

It’s weird, but professors are almost never taught how to teach, how to design a course, how to assess students, how to design an exam or what the point of an exam even is. We’re just expected to pick this up on our own, I guess. It’s not as nonsensical as it sounds, since we are trained how to do research and communicate that research, and there is some overlap. But still.

If my experience is any indication, we just pick up an existing course structure and more or less follow that. Oh, the last person who taught this course used this material, and this syllabus, and these exams, so I’ll just do more or less that for now. If we’re ambitious and/or want to shoot our tenure track in the foot, we might try to innovate soon after. Otherwise, we might innovate later.

Anyway I’m not good at doing things just because that’s how they’ve always been done; I need first principles. After designing, administering, grading, invigilating several of them, I was struggling to figure out what the point of a final exam is. So I had a bunch of conversations on Twitter and now I’m collecting my thoughts on what the point of a final exam is and how it might, or might not, serve a purpose in my course.

Warning: I am not an education researcher, and this is not research, and it’s got a lot of stream-of-consciousness.

A Summary of Discussions on Virtual Conferences

:: academia

After a successful virtual PLDI, some of us expressed support for more virtual conferences in the future, and some expressed dissent and concerns. The result was an interesting discussion on Twitter, which is essentially impossible to follow. I summarize the discussions here, and include some of my own editorializing.

Please forgive the typos; my fingers quickly get out of sync with my brain, especially at 1am while following multiple twitter discussions.

One inside perspective on the graduate student application process

:: academia

Around this time of year (graduate student recruiting season), I see lots of:

  1. Stress from students who are unsure about the graduate recruiting process and how their application is viewed.
  2. Reassurance from people who have been through the process, e.g.,:

https://twitter.com/TaliaRinger/status/1225981382708514817

What I don’t see much from professors explaining WTF.

I’ve now been on both sides of this process and wants to give a peak behind the mysterious curtain in an attempt to reduce stress from students currently going through this process, and hopefully help future students with their applications.

This started as a tweet thread; you can view the original here:

https://twitter.com/wilbowma/status/1226023671946330113

In this post, I maintain that thread and elaborate on it.

CS101: Introduction to Hammering

:: academia

In this post, I describe a proposal to redevelop the Construction Science introduction course to use hammers, a standard and state-of-the-art industry tool that students should have experience with.

The reviewers were right to reject my paper

:: academia, research

I submitted two papers to POPL 2018. The first, “Type-Preserving CPS Translation of Σ and Π Types is Not Not Possible”, was accepted. The second, “Correctly Closure-Converting Coq and Keeping the Types, Too” (draft unavailable), was rejected.

Initially, I was annoyed about the reviews. I’ve since reconsidered the reviews and my work, and think the reviewers were right: this paper needs more work.