CS300 and Comps

Sun Oct 7th, 2001 9:10:48 AM PST

Diary Entry 50
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Earlier I talked about the mechanics of getting settled here at Stanford. In this entry I talk about the academic bits so far.

As a Ph.D. student in my first quarter here at Stanford, I am notrequired to take classes. In fact, I was rather emphatically discouraged from taking classes. So what do I do, do you ask? Well, so far, that's been pretty much limited to CS300 and studying for the comprehensive exams.

CS300 is a two-week seminar in which each of the Ph.D. faculty members spend an hour talking about their research. They speak for 40 minutes, we (the new Ph.D. students, about 30 of us) get 10 minutes for questions, then we get a 10-minute break before the next speaker. This is interesting, but it is difficult to sit for so long. At least we get a free breakfast and snacks each day.

I still don't know what I really want to do for research. Just about all of the faculty research looks interesting. It is difficult to decide what to specialize in so early. I think that after next week (the last week of CS300) I will have to review my notes, prioritize, and go talk to the remaining profs in person. In fact I think that's what we're supposed to do, so I guess I'm not so far off.

Besides that, I've been studying for the comprehensive exams ("comps"). These are a set of 12 1-hour exams given once a year at the end of October. I have to pass at least 8 of them in a particular combination by the end of my third year. I'm hoping to pass at least 4 of them this year. I'm studying for the ones that I think I'll need help on but which I know a little about.

I've got to say, the textbook for the logic class is the dullest book I have ever read, and I've read some pretty dull books. I don't normally have trouble falling asleep while reading technical books, but this is an exception. So, if you're looking for interesting reading, avoid The Deductive Foundations of Computer Programming. On the other hand, it does seem to be well written otherwise.

Last updated 03 Apr 2004 21:17. Copyright © 2004 Ben Pfaff.
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