I’m back


Over a year has elapsed since I published this post.

How did that go, you might ask?

I recently posted a note to Facebook explaining my plans for the future. Although it has global visibility, I will cross-post it here.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do in the future, and this is what’s currently on my mind.

  1. Spending a year away from any serious involvement in computer science has caused me to realize how important the field is to me. Not only was I miserable when I wasn’t composing algorithms and writing code, but I also came to realize that I am not nearly as good at anything else as I am at those things.
  2. Whatever I do, I want to be at the top of my field. Maybe this is silly; maybe it is unrealistic. No, I don’t mean I need to be absolutely the best at something. I mean I need to be first-rate. I need to accomplish enough so that I’ll feel as though I significantly improved the world through my work. By point #1, it seems obvious that, whatever I pursue from here on in, it should involve computer science.
  3. From an early age my dream has been to become an academic. But in recent years I have become aware of how fierce the competition is for tenured professorships, as well as how I am not as gifted (relative to others) as I had thought. I have realized that I may not be able to become a first-rate academic. If I cannot become a first-rate academic, I do not want to become any kind of academic. The opportunity cost of becoming an academic is very high: several years of my life as a young adult. It is highly desirable to avoid taking this path unless I have a reasonable chance of succeeding.
  4. I was not admitted to any competitive undergraduate institution to which I applied. I am also not receiving any scholarships from my current undergraduate institution. Academically, I have done no better than average. On the other hand, receiving awards in several coding competitions as well as becoming an intern at Facebook have allowed me to conclude that I am doing far better than average when it comes to writing code. Based on available evidence, it appears that my chances of becoming a first-rate software engineer are significantly higher than my chances of becoming a first-rate academic. Furthermore, at least with the current state of the industry, the opportunity cost of going into software engineering is very low.
  5. My estimate of my own chances of becoming a first-rate academic will be revised upward if I can attend one of the world’s best graduate schools in computer science (a list to be determined). I consider this almost necessary, but far from sufficient, as a condition for becoming a first-rate academic; even if it is met, I will probably still have a far better chance of becoming a first-rate software engineer than an academic. However, my preference for academia over industry is such that I would be willing to take the chance. Otherwise, I do not intend to pursue education beyond the undergraduate level.

I try my very hardest to stay true to my word, which is why I opened up a new blog rather than continuing to write posts on the old one. But I named it spin0r to emphasize that the new blog is substantially similar to the old one, in accordance with the valuable lesson I learned from undertaking the contents of that last post on t3nsor—that it is futile and self-defeating to try to change most of the things that make me who I am.

And yet, I have changed. I return as a wiser, more confident person; who better understands who he is and where he is going; who has learned from the mistakes he made in blogging in the past; and who will, on one hand, not repeat those mistakes, and on the other hand, reduce correspondingly the credence he lends to non-constructive criticism directed at his future posts.

Readers, it’s good to be back.

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About Brian

Hi! I'm Brian Bi. As of November 2014 I live in Sunnyvale, California, USA and I'm a software engineer at Google. Besides code, I also like math, physics, chemistry, and some other miscellaneous things.
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