Grad School Bleg

by on March 20, 2008 · 16 comments

This fall, I will almost certainly be going to grad school in computer science. My options are Rice (where I’d be working with Dan Wallach), Princeton (with Ed Felten), and CMU (with Jim Herbsleb). Felten and Wallach both do research on computer security, with an emphasis on e-voting. Herbsleb studies open source software from a software engineering and economics perspective. I’ve now had a chance to talk to all three of them, and all three of them sound like they’d be great fun to work with. All three of them are interested in the kind of interdisciplinary CS/public policy research I’m hoping to do, although Princeton’s IT Policy Center probably gives it an edge in that respect.

I’ve got a few more weeks to make my decision. If you’ve got first-hand experience with any of these CS programs and would be willing to share your thoughts, I’d love to hear from you: leex1008 (at) umn.edu.

  • Adam

    No first hand experience with them, but after just finishing my grad school, I’d recommend you pick the one that you think would open the most doors later. Networking is how a lot of future positions happen. Also consider both how you would like the research you’d do and how well you’d interact with the person (people) you’d be working with.

    Feel free to call or e-mail

  • Adam

    No first hand experience with them, but after just finishing my grad school, I’d recommend you pick the one that you think would open the most doors later. Networking is how a lot of future positions happen. Also consider both how you would like the research you’d do and how well you’d interact with the person (people) you’d be working with.

    Feel free to call or e-mail

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Unless you’re really, really good at math (and I mean *really, really good*) you want to stay as far away from computer security as you possibly can. I guarantee it will make your head hurt day after day.

    And most graduate courses in CS are BS, so if you don’t want to be some kind of coder when you get out of school you’d be better off going to law school where you could bask in the radiated glory of somebody like Lessig, Wu, or Yoo.

  • http://bennett.com/blog Richard Bennett

    Unless you’re really, really good at math (and I mean *really, really good*) you want to stay as far away from computer security as you possibly can. I guarantee it will make your head hurt day after day.

    And most graduate courses in CS are BS, so if you don’t want to be some kind of coder when you get out of school you’d be better off going to law school where you could bask in the radiated glory of somebody like Lessig, Wu, or Yoo.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Might you be better off pursuing a different type of degree? I can’t imagine that if they are doing interdisciplinary work that they would scoff at working with you if you are pursuing a degree in public policy or law, since you have a Computer Science degree.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Might you be better off pursuing a different type of degree? I can’t imagine that if they are doing interdisciplinary work that they would scoff at working with you if you are pursuing a degree in public policy or law, since you have a Computer Science degree.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    MikeT, I miss using the left-hand side of my brain, and there are already too many lawyers writing about tech policy.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Richard: Wallach and Felten’s security research tends to be more in the applied vein–less math and more figuring out how to break stuff. Obviously I’ll need to learn some crypto and whatnot if I end up going in that direction, but I don’t expect that to be a major focus of my research.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    MikeT, I miss using the left-hand side of my brain, and there are already too many lawyers writing about tech policy.

  • http://www.techliberation.com/ Tim Lee

    Richard: Wallach and Felten’s security research tends to be more in the applied vein–less math and more figuring out how to break stuff. Obviously I’ll need to learn some crypto and whatnot if I end up going in that direction, but I don’t expect that to be a major focus of my research.

  • http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com Ed Felten

    Princeton is obviously the right choice — why not go to grad school where Dan Wallach went? ;)

  • http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com Ed Felten

    Princeton is obviously the right choice — why not go to grad school where Dan Wallach went? ;)

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Both GWU and GMU have graduate certificates in IT-related subjects. You could probably do something like that at most major schools to pursue some advanced education in IT-related subjects while working on a public policy or law degree.

  • http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com MikeT

    Both GWU and GMU have graduate certificates in IT-related subjects. You could probably do something like that at most major schools to pursue some advanced education in IT-related subjects while working on a public policy or law degree.

  • http://www.dubfire.net/chris/ Chris Soghoian

    Were I in your shoes, I’d pick Princeton in a heartbeat.

    If you are going to be doing computer security stuff, you’re going to be breaking systems, and pissing off large companies.

    I would not want to face a Texas jury for anything that a prosecutor could twist into “hacking”.
    There is a reason that patent trolls love Texas juries.

    You want a nice, liberal, educated jury. While people like to talk shit about New Jersey, you’re far more likely to get it there.

    Furthermore, Ed Felten has the EFF on speed-dial, and they return his calls. (Ok, they return everyone’s calls, but thats just because they’re a fantastic bunch).

    While Pennsylvania is technically Democratic – they did elect Santorum.

  • http://www.dubfire.net/chris/ Chris Soghoian

    Were I in your shoes, I’d pick Princeton in a heartbeat.

    If you are going to be doing computer security stuff, you’re going to be breaking systems, and pissing off large companies.

    I would not want to face a Texas jury for anything that a prosecutor could twist into “hacking”.
    There is a reason that patent trolls love Texas juries.

    You want a nice, liberal, educated jury. While people like to talk shit about New Jersey, you’re far more likely to get it there.

    Furthermore, Ed Felten has the EFF on speed-dial, and they return his calls. (Ok, they return everyone’s calls, but thats just because they’re a fantastic bunch).

    While Pennsylvania is technically Democratic – they did elect Santorum.

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