Archive for August 8, 2005

The Power of Procrastination (Grad School); Automatic CS Paper Generator

Jorge G. Cham, the man behind the ever popular Piled Higher and Deeper Comic strip, is in the news with highlights in The Chronicle (subscription needed) and Nature.

Excerpts from The Chronicle:

…His motivational mantra: Stop studying and start procrastinating.

That’s what Mr. Cham, who also writes a comic strip on graduate-student life, is telling audiences at colleges across the country, while promoting his new collection of cartoons. His strip, Piled Higher and Deeper, is a cult classic on some campuses.

Mr. Cham says graduate students should resist pressure to work all the time, and realize that insight most often happens outside the lab.

…”I procrastinate doing research by doing the comic strip and I procrastinate doing comic strips by doing research,” says Mr. Cham.

The strip follows a group of grad-school buddies as they bemoan the status of their theses or love lives, search for free food, and, of course, take breaks.

Now he is being mentioned on Nature and his strips will be a regular feature on their Graduate Channel.

Who says procrastination does not pay? Heh heh.


Other news: Update on the Bogus CS Paper submitted by three MIT graduate students for a conference back in April 2005.

The Chronicle (again):

Graduate Students Film Their Attempts to Present Randomly Generated Papers at Informatics Conference


Three graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology attracted a flurry of attention in April after an academic conference accepted their randomly generated, nonsensical paper. Now the students are stars of a lighthearted video they made when they went to the conference even though their invitations had been withdrawn.

The three, Jeremy A. Stribling, Maxwell Krohn, and Daniel Aguayo, are computer-science students studying parallel and distributed operating systems. The organizer of the conference, called the Ninth World Multi-Conference on Systemics, Cybernetics, and Informatics, had initially invited them to attend after accepting their phony paper, which was titled “Rooter: a Methodology for the Typical Unification of Access Points and Redundancy.”

But the organizer, Nagib Callaos, retracted the invitation after the students’ ruse was widely publicized (The Chronicle, April 29), and the conference Web site now includes a lengthy discourse called “With regards to the bogus papers submitted to WMSCI 2005.”

The students were nevertheless able to raise enough money online to travel to the meeting, held in July at an Orlando hotel. Conference officials objected when the students distributed fliers encouraging attendees to go to what the students billed as a “technical session” that had its own randomly generated title, “The 6th Annual North American Symposium on Methodologies, Theory, and Information.” The officials asked the hotel to make the students remove all references to the conference from their materials.

During their session, the students filmed themselves presenting three meaningless, jargon-laden papers written by the computer program they had created.

For additional verisimilitude, the trio assumed fake names and donned wigs and mustaches as each, in turn, presented one of the papers. The titles were “Harnessing Byzantine Fault Tolerance Using Classical Theory,” “Synthesizing Checksums and Lambda Calculus Using Jog,” and “On the Study of the Ethernet.”

On their Web site, the students also commented on whether they thought the conference was genuine. “The talks we saw were fairly vacuous, without any major decipherable insights,” Mr. Stribling wrote. “They may or may not have represented good work, it’s honestly hard to say.”

The students’ video is beefed up with a glam-rock soundtrack, quick cross-cutting, entertaining titles, slow-motion segments, and a sense of immediacy and authenticity that a hand-held camera can lend. It shows the students speaking to a room empty except for one man who appears to have been attracted by the refreshments.

The video is available on the students’ Web site (
Section: Information Technology
Volume 51, Issue 49, Page A32

The lengthy discourse can be found here.


August 8, 2005 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

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