Confessions of a researchaholic

July 18, 2017

Picking research problems

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:12 am
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This is the most important stage of conducting research. I do not claim to know the answer, and my experience is limited to specific fields in CS, but (as before) I write this down to get feedbacks and to save the trouble of repeating myself.

Listen to people facing real problems instead of trusting the future work sections in research papers. If there are good (to elaborate) users or product people around you, ask what they need.

Identify concrete problems first, before thinking about other parts like idea novelty, algorithm framework, etc. (Look for hammers after nails.)
If we can find a trivial solution for an important problem, great, solve it, and quickly move on to something else.
This beats the alternative of coming up with a fancy method that does not solve anything.

The problem should fit our interest and expertise well enough, so that we have sufficient willingness and capability to address it.

If the problem is not sufficiently clear or convincing, the research project is probably a waste of time.
If the solution to the problem is not clear or convincing at the beginning, it is not only quite normal but also a potential sign that the problem is sufficiently non-trivial.

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