“You and Your Research”

“The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers”

A prophetic talk (see retranscription) from from the late Richard Hamming (1915 – 1998), one of the pioneers of computer sciences, information theory and telecommunication. His work on error detection & correction codes was instrumental for the development of modern networks, including Internet. In this recording, he shares with us some personal views and insights on how to conduct a successful scientific career. A very inspiring talk!

“If you do not work on an important problem, it’s unlikely you’ll do important work. It’s perfectly obvious. Great scientists have thought through, in a careful way, a number of important problems in their field, and they keep an eye on wondering how to attack them. Let me warn you, `important problem’ must be phrased carefully. The three outstanding problems in physics, in a certain sense, were never worked on while I was at Bell Labs. By important I mean guaranteed a Nobel Prize and any sum of money you want to mention. We didn’t work on (1) time travel, (2) teleportation, and (3) antigravity. They are not important problems because we do not have an attack. It’s not the consequence that makes a problem important, it is that you have a reasonable attack. That is what makes a problem important“. – Richard Hamming

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