we've come a long way baby!


You and Your Research

Richard Hamming - You and Your Research


  • Early on, he realized he was a janitor of science - just taking care of things, but not really making a dent
  • Was envious of good scientists
  • Wondered what's the diff between good and great people?

Do Significant Things

Fame And Luck

  • Luck favors the prepared mind
  • Prepare yourself by the way you lead your life from day to day
  • To a great extent it is constant, hard work
  • Early indicators, like IQ, don't really factor in - Newton and Einstein and a few others weren't really special as youngsters


  • Believe you're doing great things
  • Use Claude Shannon's motto "I ain't scared of nothin'" for bold breakthroughs
  • Overconfidence is bad. What's overconfidence? It's like the diff between strong-willed and stubborn


  • If what you're doing is not important, why are you doing it? Work on important things.
  • Nobel winners tend to get on committees and have no time to do work anymore, and stop doing important things
  • Those who keep their office door closed can do good work, but are often disconnected from reality, and this keeps them from doing important work. Those who keep their door opened tend to be connected and working on important things
  • Important things have an attack. Some things that are important (ie time travel) have no real means of attack, so it's disqualified as truly important for you.


  • Whatever I'm going to do, I'm going to do well
  • When you have a vision of what you're going to do and what you're going to be, you're going to get far
  • The drunken sailor: when he's gotta get from point A to B, will wander and take many steps, but eventually get there. If there's a pretty girl at point B, he'll get there much faster and directly.
  • Study great people


  • What appears to be a defect is an answer. Turn the problem around
  • Study your successes - not failures
  • The race is not to the swift. A combo of style and taste will equal success.
  • There's a million races being run, you just gotta get in one of 'em and win.


  • Set aside some time to stop and think: what's going on, what's important, what are the fundamentals behind it?
  • Learn new things to give you perspective on your field


  • Believe in what's true, but hold out some disbelief to enable you to make the jump.
  • Greatness consists of seeing what other people have missed, and seizing upon contradictions and making the new step forward - you have to tolerage ambiguity


  • It ain't what you do, it's the way you do it
  • Get clear on a thing, and be able to communicate it, orally, written, and casually
  • What talks are effective? What style can you adapt?


  • Change != progress, but progress requires change
  • Most people and institutions don't like change
  • The onus is on you to demonstrate greatness, and then you'll get the opportunity

"Repent your idle ways, and get down and be somebody worth being"