Thursday, January 05, 2006

Research topics in Computer Science

I recently got an email out of the blue from somebody asking me to suggest a topic for a PhD in Computer Science. I can only think of three responses to such a question.

The instinctive response, of course, is to tell the person to go consult an astrologer - whose input I figure will be much more useful than mine. Hey, at least it won't be totally random.

The second response is the truly random response. Think of the most complex terms in Computer Science and plug them together to concoct a topic. Fortunately, this is something that a charitable soul at Purdue has already done.

The third response can be classified in the "smart-alec" category. Simply return with a list of all possible topics in Computer Science which squarely puts the ball out of your court. Also guaranteed to cause complete confusion in the best case and mental degeneration in the worst.

Probably a fitting way to sum it up would be to borrow the Oracle's dialogue from the Matrix: "You seem like a nice guy, and I hate giving good people bad news."