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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.