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Tuesday, October 05, 2004

The PhD-Elevator hypothesis
I was waiting outside the 4th floor elevator of my building when I figured out that a PhD has some inherent similarities with the elevator's functioning. Every time I press the down button of the elevator I start thinking that it might be better to just take the steps. Normally 30 secs pass by before I convince myself that it indeed would be wiser to actually walk down and just when I'm about to start walking I tell myself "well, now that I've already waited this long - the elevator is probably here" - so I wait a little more - sometimes I am right and the welcoming door opens pronto while at times I wait and rebuke myself for not walking down earlier - but yes - I pretty much always take the elevator.

Now imagine the PhD (at least a CS grad PhD) process - they make you do coursework and take qualifiers et al - a process that takes almost 2 years. So you think aha - I am pretty much on track. Then after a year you question whether the whole process is worth it - is it? Some arrive at a negative answer after a few months and decide that the pursuit for knowledge has to be given a break. BUT, by then you've already spent three and a half years - so you think - "ah! I have already spent so much time - maybe I'll get my PhD in another a year". So you wait and at times you are right while other times the elevator of knowledge makes you wait even longer but by then you've waited so long that you might as well justify the wait by actually taking the elevator - so once again - you pretty much always finish your PhD.

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