Melvin's digital garden

Relevance of research skills

date: 2009-12-23 09:37:42 +08:00 comments: true category: research

I was asked to give a career talk to graduating secondary school students for my alma mater, Swiss Cottage Secondary School. I offered to talk about careers in IT but was told that it was already taken. I suggested maybe I can talk about a career in research and development instead.

In preparation for this talk, I’d thought I will revise a blog post I wrote for the NUS SoC blog regarding the relevance of research skill.

In a nutshell, computer science research is a systematic study of a specific problem to derive new methods and design of computer systems to solve real world problems.

Most of us have to perform various research related activities at one point or another, whether it is working on an project or doing a literature survey for an essay we have to write. In general, a research project consists of the following components:

  • identify and formulate the problem to be solved (IMHO, the most important step)
  • review of existing work on related problems (to avoid reinventing the wheel)
  • proposal of a new solution (not as hard as it sounds, often a refinement of an existing solutions or a combination of various other solutions)
  • show that your proposed solution indeed solves the problem

Almost all serious projects involved the above steps. That is why research skills such as problem formulation, review of related work and design of experiments to support your claims are important. In particular, formulating the right problem is often the key step towards a solution. To quote the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian philosopher, “If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem”.

Links to this note