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[Computational Complexity] What Makes a Good Collaborator?

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  • Lance
    This week I visit CWI in Amsterdam where I spent my sabbatical year eight years ago and continue working relationships with many people here especially Harry
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 14, 2005
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      This week I visit CWI in Amsterdam 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 worked with.
      • 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 with well.

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      Posted by Lance to Computational Complexity at 3/14/2005 03:14:00 AM

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