Archive for January 21st, 2011

Half the battle is in choosing the problems — not in coming up with the solutions.  If you get the right problems, if you ask the right questions, you’re a long way to the solution.
Find problems that emerge out of applications.  The danger is to get into some little branch of theory that becomes self-feeding and doesn’t tie back into the real world.  I have always tried to work on problems that have some practical importance, for which I thought I could get algorithms that would be practical.
[On the other hand], you never can tell when some idea generated in some isolated area turns out to connect with something else.  The magic of mathematics and theoretical computer science is all the unexpected connections.  You start looking for general principles and then mysterious connections emerge.  Nobody can say why this is.
    —    Robert E. Tarjan

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