This week I visit CWI
where I spent my sabbatical year eight years ago and continue working
relationships with many people here especially Harry Burhman. Harry is
my strongest collaborator in the sense that I have written far more
papers with him than any person. So
what makes for a good collaborator?
- Strength—A good collaborator should of course be a strong
researcher in my area of interest and Harry certainly fits that bill. But
there are many great complexity theorists I have hardly or never
- Compatibility of Strengths—The strengths should complement each other nicely. Good collaborators
know their areas well and can quickly focus the inherently difficult
parts of a problem and have different tools and approaches they can
bring to the table.
- Respect—Good collaborators need to trust and respect each
others ability and judgment.
- Philosophy—Long-Term collaborators need to share beliefs on
what problems are important and worth working on.
- Personality—You need to have a friendly relationship outside
of work. It helps immensely if your respective families get along.
- Luck—Finding the right problems to work on together at the
right time. You need a good first collaboration before you start
making time for further collaborations.
- Distance—This seems counterintuitive but two people in the
same geographical area rarely have a long history of
collaboration. It's hard to make time for working together when you
are in close proximity. Also two people who see each other
constantly get tired of working with each other no matter how
compatible they are.
Better to keep in email contact and have several short and long visits
where one can allocate time for the other.
There is something else that I can't perfectly describe where
something just "clicks" when you have someone you can work
--Posted by Lance to Computational Complexity at 3/14/2005 03:14:00 AM