Saturday, June 24, 2006

PhD: The marathon that ends in a dash

"He has to work only 2 hours a day", "you teach only six months a year", "all you have to do is publish a few papers".

These are the comments I hear when I tell people that I want to pursue an academic career. What they don't understand is the hypotheses testing, can't comprehend are the countless hours of waiting for my MC chains to converge, or grasp the range of start values neede to figure out at least the local maxima in my ML estimation. How can I convince them that it is important that someone think about cause and effect and try and come up with explanations of reality.

PhD is indeed like a marathon, where one has to finish the really long race, somehow. However, it comes with a little twist at the ending, the final 200m or so is till a dash, a mad rush to get research articles to journals, read more, work harder.

After finishing four years in the PhD program at Penn State and with one more year to wind-up, I realized this "twist".

Well, for me as a PhD stduent, it is not just 2 hours at workplace, but 18 hours a day for 365 days a year for 5 years or so, and then the same after grduation. PhD changes the way you look at world, at people, at your own self, and that is what I like the most.

The more I know, the lesser I think I know.