Notes of "You and Your Research" Lecture by Richard Hamming
最初看 You and Your Research 是因为其中一点 “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest”, 也就是每天抽出一些时间学习额外的东西就像复利, 雪球越滚越大. 道理我都懂, 但是还有哪些科研方面的经验呢? 于是就继续看完了这一演讲并稍作总结.
Update: 好吧, 发现已经有一篇 paper 总结了他的演讲了, 看了下我的似乎更精简.
This talk centered on Hamming’s observations and research on the question “Why do so few scientists make significant contributions and so many are forgotten in the long run?”
Louis Pasteur’s quote, “chance favors the prepared mind.”
One of the characteristics of successful scientists is having courage. They will go forward under incredible circumstances; they think and continue to think.
The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, in my opinion, has ruined more good scientists than any institution has created, judged by what they did before they came and judged by what they did after. Not that they weren’t good afterwards, but they were superb before they got there and were only good afterwards.
What most people think are the best working conditions, are not. Very clearly they are not because people are often most productive when working conditions are bad.
“It is a poor workman who blames his tools - the good man gets on with the job, given what he’s got, and gets the best answer he can.”
I think that if you look carefully you will see that often the great scientists, by turning the problem around a bit, changed a defect to an asset.
If you really want to be a first-class scientist you need to know yourself, your weaknesses, your strengths, and your bad faults, like my egotism. How can you convert a fault to an asset? How can you convert a situation where you haven’t got enough manpower to move into a direction when that’s exactly what you need to do? I say again that I have seen, as I studied the history, the successful scientist changed the viewpoint and what was a defect became an asset.
Well I went storming into Bode’s office and said, “How can anybody my age know as much as John Tukey does?” He leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, grinned slightly, and said, “You would be surprised Hamming, how much you would know if you worked as hard as he did that many years. I simply slunk out of the office!”
What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.”
Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime.
I don’t like to say it in front of my wife, but I did sort of neglect her sometimes; I needed to study. You have to neglect things if you intend to get what you want done. There’s no question about this.
Great contributions are rarely done by adding another decimal place. It comes down to an emotional commitment. Most great scientists are completely committed to their problem. Those who don’t become committed seldom produce outstanding, first-class work.
Well, we know very little about the subconscious; but one thing you are pretty well aware of is that your dreams also come out of your subconscious. And you’re aware your dreams are, to a fair extent, a reworking of the experiences of the day. If you are deeply immersed and committed to a topic, day after day after day, your subconscious has nothing to do but work on your problem. And so you wake up one morning, or on some afternoon, and there’s the answer.
So the way to manage yourself is that when you have a real important problem you don’t let anything else get the center of your attention - you keep your thoughts on the problem. Keep your subconscious starved so it has to work on your problem, so you can sleep peacefully and get the answer in the morning, free.
认真思考领域内的最重要的问题，不与现实脱节 (Leave the door open):
I noticed he has succeeded. I have never heard the names of any of the other fellows at that table mentioned in science and scientific circles. They were unable to ask themselves, “What are the important problems in my field?” 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.
But I can say there is a pretty good correlation between those who work with the doors open and those who ultimately do important things, although people who work with doors closed often work harder. Somehow they seem to work on slightly the wrong thing - not much, but enough that they miss fame.
The people who do great work with less ability but who are committed to it, get more done that those who have great skill and dabble in it, who work during the day and go home and do other things and come back and work the next day. They don’t have the deep commitment that is apparently necessary for really first-class work.
You find this happening again and again; good scientists will fight the system rather than learn to work with the system and take advantage of all the system has to offer. It has a lot, if you learn how to use it. It takes patience, but you can learn how to use the system pretty well, and you can learn how to get around it.
I am saying that my study of able people is that they don’t get themselves committed to that kind of warfare. They play it a little bit and drop it and get on with their work.
别让外表穿衣举止不妥等小事影响你最关心的事，否则不注意会长期受害 (这一点… orz):
I know enough not to let my clothes, my appearance, my manners get in the way of what I care about. An enormous number of scientists feel they must assert their ego and do their thing their way. They have got to be able to do this, that, or the other thing, and they pay a steady price.
Another fault is anger. Often a scientist becomes angry, and this is no way to handle things. Amusement, yes, anger, no. Anger is misdirected. You should follow and cooperate rather than struggle against the system all the time.
If you read all the time what other people have done you will think the way they thought. If you want to think new thoughts that are different, then do what a lot of creative people do - get the problem reasonably clear and then refuse to look at any answers until you’ve thought the problem through carefully how you would do it, how you could slightly change the problem to be the correct one. So yes, you need to keep up. You need to keep up more to find out what the problems are than to read to find the solutions. The reading is necessary to know what is going on and what is possible. But reading to get the solutions does not seem to be the way to do great research. So I’ll give you two answers. You read; but it is not the amount, it is the way you read that counts.
Each person is entitled to their choice. Keep an open mind. But when you do choose a path, for heaven’s sake be aware of what you have done and the choice you have made. Don’t try to do both sides.