Last week I taught my first exercise session. I am a PhD student so the kind of classes that I will teach are exercise sessions about what the Professor explained in the theory class. They essentially have to work problems and I have to explain and help them with their approach in solving them.

Students of the same year are divided into small groups. I had about 25 students and from what I noticed: 17 were working hard, 7 were working more slowly with less interest and 1 was watching videos with his smartphone.

I tried to get his attention in a kind way several times (by going to him and telling something like “I know that videos are funnier than this theoretical stuff but if you want to practice for the exam you should do also exercises”) but even if he stopped and started to read the exercises then he always restarted watching videos.

Since I will not assign grades and this kind of class is not mandatory, his participation will change nothing in his final grade.
So at a certain point I just wanted to ask him why is he attending. There are many seats outside the class where he could sit and watch videos, but I just stopped to get his attention and I left him watching videos. I made this decision because he was watching videos/surfing the web without audio and without annoying the other students.

What is the best way to deal with these situations?

I just turned sixteen this January, and I have started thinking about where I will go to pursue research in theoretical physics and mathematics. I live in India, and, sadly speaking, research here in India is awful, even though many claims of scientific advancements in India are made. First, I would like to share what I do at home.

I have mastered differential and integral calculus, and I have independently proved, and discovered some of my own proofs of theorems in Real Analysis(Proofs which I haven’t seen in some other source, but they might exist). I have also independently discovered the well known techniques of solutions to certain kinds of differential equations, without having any knowledge of how to solve them. I continue to explore higher level mathematics, and try my best to prove each theorem I encounter myself.

Now, the thing is, nobody at school, neither the teachers nor my friends, know anything about this. Even my parents are not fully aware about all this, but I try my best to share this with them. At school, the curriculum is such that the teachers are teaching to the test, and a heavy focus on contests and olympiads is laid, and to choose subjects of your own choice, you have to score high enough in subjects like Social Science and English, which don’t even matter in research. Unnecessary debates and discussions are held, and I try my best to not share anything with these guys, to prevent getting into an hour long debate on what you should pursue.

In India, the major institutions are the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institute of Science etc, where almost everybody focuses on getting into the IIT. To get an admission in the IIT, a standardised test, comprising of problems from Math, Physics, Chemistry and MAT has to be given. The admissions are solely decided by the score obtained in this test, which comprises of contest-like questions, which do not describe the research capability of the candidate. Even coaching centres have been set up all over the country, which train for this exam(called the JEE exam). The situation is really worse, and recently, I was demotivated by my teacher for not scoring enough in my social science exam. I have gotten used to this.

I would like to get admitted to institutions like MIT, Harvard, and I have read how I apply for them and what are the requirements for admission. The main thing is I have to distinguish myself from others, take part in extra-curricular activities etc, and maybe win math/science contests. But the thing is, I am not great at contests, which are timed, and I rarely would like to participate at school, where conditions are horrible. I have started taking leaves from school, because I think nothing productive is going on there.

Now, I would like to ask if I apply for these institutes, how do I share what I am capable of? As a young mathematician, I think I am really doing well, and will do well in research too. But, other than my notebook, where I write all my thoughts and all my findings, I don’t have anything that can show my abilities. If I just tell my abilities to them, like I did here, they would not believe in me, which I understand.

So, my question is, how do I show the institutes my abilities? Is it necessary for me to win contests at national/international levels, which is not that easy?

If a professor in a North American country presents his- or herself by his/her first name in email messages, does this mean that students can refer to him/her by his/her first name? Or is this generally not a good idea, unless the professor has explicitly mentioned that he/she can be referred to by first name? I’ve noticed that most professors, who prefer to be referred to more formally, do not sign their emails with just their first names, but usually initials or first and last name.

I’m in the process of applying to Ph.D. programs right now, and professors from two schools have let me know that I’ve been recommended for admission and that the graduate studies department still had to approve the recommendation. In both cases, I was assured that there was no way the approval would be denied.

I don’t have any red flags in my application, so this is a question out of pure curiosity. How often does it happen that the graduate school at large goes against the recommendation of the departmental committee, and for what sorts of reasons would this happen?

A long time ago, I had a discussion with a PhD candidate. He was honest and always shares his experience about his academic life. One of several things he has mentioned is the importance of building some connections for the sake of publications. Unfortunately, he did not elaborate about how one can build this skill. I would like to pursue my PhD, and before doing so, I need to publish some papers, at least as a second or third author, until I know how the process of publications works.

When I was conducting my Master, which would have been the perfect time to publish, my supervisor was extremely hard to deal with when it came to publications. He doesn’t believe in publications for the sake of it; rather he only publishes new and extremely fancy ideas, if there any, or he enhances some approaches but these enhancements also must be invaluable. I’ve read several papers from big names in the same field with simple yet effective ideas. This is not only me complaining about this issue, but all his students do so. Honestly, my supervisor is friendly, respectful, and has a PhD in engineering with extremely strong background in mathematics. He is extremely careful about his reputation. For example, he conducts his own publications without sharing or at least telling his students about that. I can understand that but as a grad student, I think I have a right to know how publications are done. Unfortunately, this kind of experience is hard to pick up from books.

So my question:

How do people conduct, share and publish their ideas based on connections they build off-campus?

I’m not going to deny anything nor underestimate the stupidity of what I’ve done. I feel stupid and very bad and can hardly sleep since Wednesday. Basically, On a 22% midterm last wednesday, I freaked out/panicked because I wasn’t prepared enough and tried to copy answers from a girl sitting next to me.
Out of 10 questions, I copied two. Not only I was stupid to do that, but I was even more stupid to that while sitting in the front row, in front of the prof… At the end of the exam, my prof asked me to give the name of the person sitting next to me and since then I’m seriously completely freaking out. As I got home, I found out that the two answers I copied were wrong, that to say, if my prof compares the two copies I’m definitely screwed. This clearly gave me a lesson, I’m completely stressing since wednesday and can barely think of something else.

What do I risk ?? Am I really fucked ? A F in this class will have a disastrous impact on my academic career, that being the least I could face as a punishment right ?

Please help me

In my place of work, which has a very incipient progress in the field of research in Computer Science, has occurred this dichotomic situation:

  • It has arrived one lecturer that has finished his PhD students in a foreign country. Because he has some research already on the way from his doctoral studies, he has formed a research group within our Faculty.

  • There is another lecturer that has only a Master degree, also in CS, but he has some good ideas but he suffer from the known “imposter syndrome”

In this situation the former group minimizes the attempt of the second group to form a research group; stating things like “a research group to be successful should always be led by a doctoral graduate, if not is doomed”

The question is, is it needed to have a doctoral researcher inside a research group (sorry for the redundancy)? or in what ways we should encourage the formation of research groups eventhough they are not lead by a PhD graduate?

I submitted an abstract and received notification of acceptance to present at a conference. The notification of acceptance asked for a short bio. I provided the bio and was asked to provide more info in my bio relating to my academic and professional background. I provided the requested info touching on my experience in multiple disciplines in academia and industry. I received notification today (10 days after receiving acceptance) that my submission has now been rejected. They cited concern over the depth and breadth of the topic.

This hasn’t happened with the many conferences I have submitted to. I am not sure what to do handle this situation? I have already devoted time and efforts to securing funding and completing the necessary studies to present. Should I make attempts to rectify the situation and figure out why this was retroactively rejected? Is this normal behavior for an academic conference? Should I attempt to find out what happened in their review process? What I can do to rectify the situation of having this submission retroactively rejected?

I am a graduate student doing studies in neuroscience engineering, I have a background in electrical engineering and a minor in math. Since about two years ago, whenever I talk to students in their undergraduate studies in the engineering department what they wish to do for graduate school and future career it is always two things:

  1. machine learning / AI
  2. data scientist

Even when you talk to students doing traditionally thought as specialist fields such as computer architecture and pure math, they would always some how relate the application to machine learning. If you were studying differential geometry, now you are studying “manifold learning” or “topological data analysis”. If you were doing FPGA pipeline design, now you are doing “FPGA for deep neural network”.

In fact, machine learning courses are so popular now a lot of courses offered at my university changes its name to “X + machine learning applications”. A traditional course titled “Nonlinear Optimization” is now “Nonlinear optimization for machine learning application”, a course on basic neurobiology is now “Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence” (or maybe “Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence”?).

I have gotten very curious myself about this machine learning topic. So I sat in one of the course offered by the computer science department. To my surprise, almost all the material are drawn from standard mathematical literature but treated at a much more hand-wavy, non-theoretical level suitable for undergrads.

For example, a supporting hyperplane is now a “support vector machine”. A simple max function with two argument is now a “rectified linear unit”. The so called machine learning algorithms are without any convergence guarantees, and without even the simplest run time complexity that are routinely taught in any algorithm course. The probability functions are introduced without the notion of a random variable, or a probability distribution, or any reference to sigma algebra. Maybe it is just early on in the course and things will improve over time, but right now all of this feels like a big programming exercise in python. The so called image classification relies on classical signal processing and wavelet transform which was taught to me in a course independent from machine learning applications. The depth of optimization taught is limited to gradient descent, which was taught to me a while ago in an optimization course in much more depth.

That being said, there are fair amount of researchers doing neural network related medical diagnosis at my own department. I find neural networks inherently interesting and bares resemblance with physiological feedback control system.

Can anyone who is working in math, science or engineering comment on the phenomenon of the prevalence of machine learning in their own department?

Is the popularity of machine learning taking away students from doing work and advancing traditional research disciplines?

Do you see this as ultimately a good thing for academia as a whole?

In examining published papers of employment applicants, I am noticing that authorship position shown on the resumé/CV (first, second, third authors, etc.) do not match those shown in the published papers. Is this significant? The field is cognitive neuroscience. My applicants are often shown as First Author on their CV, but not on the published papers. Is this significant in any way?