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My Thesis Year timeline_snip.jpgHappy New Year/Christmas/Festivus/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah, everybody! If I were to sum up 2008 in a word — and I am about to — it was my “Worio” year. I spent the year working full-time with the Worio team on the web-page recommender system, and we have something I think we’re all fairly proud of. We demoed Worio at NIPS 2008 and got a good reception, we’ve received a bit of cautiously positive bloggage, and I’ve been awarded my first patent, for work I did with Worio.

Now it’s 2009, and I’m planning to make it my thesis year. I’m still involved with Worio, but as of January 1st, I’m no longer a full-time employee, I’m a full-time PhD candidate. Just before I went on leave to work with Worio, I defended my PhD proposal. A proposal is, essentially, an outline of what the thesis will be, and a schedule for finishing it. The idea is that if I do what I said I was planning to do, my committee has to grant me my PhD. Of course, the reality of research is ideas that seemed brilliant sometimes end up being harder that you thought, or impossible, or have already been done by other people. And at the same time, you have new ideas, or get unexpectedly good results from an experiment. So what ends up going into your thesis can look pretty different from what you said was going to go in.

I don’t know how much my thesis will end up resembling what I proposed, but I know the past year working on other projects has given me both some new ideas and also the motivation to buckle down and finish the damn thing. The conventional wisdom is that your PhD lasts until you want it to be over, and as much as I enjoy the grad-student lifestyle, I would like it to be done. I’ve spent years in academia and I’ve spent years in industry and I like industry a whole lot better. I’m also greatly looking forward to spending a while backpacking across Asia, which I’m planning to do after I finish my PhD.

So what are my goals for 2009? By the end of the year, I would like to either be done my thesis or be in the home stretch. I would like to have a couple of papers on their way to publication. I would like to see some of my research work going into a piece of real-world software like Worio, though I have a couple of ideas for projects of my own, too.

And so I may be neglecting this blog while I find a new work/school/girlfriend equilibrium. But my plan is — in addition to any other blogging I may or may not be doing — to have a longish, thesis-related post every month, kind of talking about how it’s going and what I’ve been working on. I’m not sure how interesting it will be to y’all out there, but it should be a useful exercise for me.

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  1. January was a Month of Adjusting | eric brochu | haiku factory on Monday, February 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    […] sewing and listening to Kevin Smith’s podcast at the moment, so I thought I’d give my as-promised report on how the thesis is […]