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[Computational Complexity] Cocktail Conversations

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  • Lance
    I once met a professor at Chicago that would say My business is war, and business is good. I have a food scientist friend from college who did his doctorate
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 29, 2005
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      I once met a professor at Chicago that would say "My business is war, and business is good." I have a food scientist friend from college who did his doctorate on starch and had a catch phrase "Everything you eat is healthy, safe and nutritious." But when I start having a conversation with non-scientists it often goes like this:
      • Them: "What do you do?"
      • Me: "I'm a professor at the University of Chicago."
      • "That's neat. What do you teach?"
      • "Computer Science."
      • (a) "Oh. Excuse me, I see someone I know," or
        (b) "I'm setting up a wireless network in my house.", or
        (c) "I don't use the computers much but my kids are really into it."
      I'm sure many of you have had similar experiences. On occasion they will ask me about my research and I will regale them with stories about traveling salesman and Arthur and Merlin, but that rarely goes far. It could be worse, I might have done my research on Hopf algebras.

      How do you discuss your research with non-specialists? I'm sure some of you solve this problem by not having any non-CS/Math friends. But if we can't easily discuss our work one-on-one how do we convince the public that our research is important to them and society at large.

      --
      Posted by Lance to Computational Complexity at 9/29/2005 05:57:00 PM

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