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Anti-Disciplinary: doing a PhD when you like too many things

Chris
September 03, 2017

Anti-Disciplinary: doing a PhD when you like too many things

PLMW 2017 keynote

Chris

September 03, 2017
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  1. anti-disciplinary
    doing a PhD when you like too many things
    Chris Martens
    PLMW 2017
    Oxford, UK

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  2. about me
    • Assistant professor (UK equiv: lecturer) at 

    North Carolina State University
    • Postdoc UC Santa Cruz, 

    Expressive Intelligence Studio
    • PhD CMU, Principles of Programming Group

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  3. about me, real talk
    • went to grad school thinking i only liked theory,
    no applications
    • assumed i probably wouldn’t finish
    • couldn’t stop playing with logic-based encodings
    of interactive fiction games, you know, for fun
    • turned it into a thesis, graduated, got a tenure-
    track job

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  4. about you
    • PhD, BS, masters, industry?

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  5. about you
    • 1st academic conference?

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  6. about you
    • 1st academic conference?
    • Giving a talk?
    • …for the first time?

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  7. about you
    you’re in a beautiful city with fellow nerds
    relax and enjoy your time! 

    take down time if you need it.

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  8. how many of you have felt
    like….
    You can’t decide on a thesis topic because too many things
    are interesting?

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  9. how many of you have felt
    like….
    You can’t decide on a thesis topic because too many things
    are interesting?
    Or, you’re not quite sure if [name of your department] totally
    describes the thing(s) you want to focus on?

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  10. my research
    computational narrative

    +

    procedural generation

    +

    programming language design

    + 

    formal methods (algebra, logic)

    +

    game design

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  11. research
    my thesis: Ceptre, a linear logic programming
    language that I showed could be used for
    modeling interactive narratives
    my 1st PhD student’s project: using epistemic
    modal logic to codify how agents’ beliefs and
    meta-beliefs inform their goal-directed actions

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  12. research
    undergrad projects:
    * creating an executable model (in Ceptre) of how
    group conversation works based on sociolinguistic
    theories
    * modeling the mechanics of Minecraft and
    showing how the achievement tree can be
    algorithmically derived from their structure

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  13. research
    active projects:
    * Villanelle, a framework that aims to democratize
    AI for narrative designers, enable them to create
    virtual worlds with autonomous agents
    * Using linear logic programming for mathematical
    models of biological systems (w/Belinda Akpa)

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  14. research
    fields that currently or aspirationally inform my
    research:
    - visual narrative theory (comics, film)

    - cognitive science

    - systems biology

    - linguistics

    - sociology

    - history

    - theater

    - category theory

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  15. too many things!
    hard to fit into disciplinary boundaries

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  16. in search of a label
    computational creativity?
    human-computer interaction?
    (they want human subjects eval, not proofs)

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  17. in search of a label
    PL? formal methods?
    (more concerned with the minutiae of programs
    than in what they are enabling)

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  18. in search of a label
    AI?
    (synonymous with machine learning in most
    people’s minds; ambiguous connotations)

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  19. anti-disciplinary
    a phrase I stole from Golan Levin (CMU)
    who stole it from the MIT Media Lab i think

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  20. anti-disciplinary
    not combining 2+ disciplines but lying outside of
    discipline boundaries entirely
    overlapping or containing other “established”
    disciplines

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  21. anti-disciplinary
    who winds up here?
    anecdotally:

    often people who already feel like outsiders in
    traditional disciplines (women, URMs, LGBT+)

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  22. identify your values
    some of mine:
    * basic research
    * fields outside of CS (and STEM) have valid and
    valuable research methodologies

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  23. what’s worked out so far
    1. LUCK: the US job market was really bullish for
    digital games research when i entered it
    2. PEOPLE: i’ve found kind, inspiring collaborators
    & mentors who helped me out a lot
    3. INTEREST: students flock to my lab; lots of
    public interest (i.e. Twitter) in my work; people
    know to ping me if logic/PL + creativity comes up

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  24. what’s still hard
    1. what grants to apply for? what conferences do i
    submit to? (ALL OF THEM)
    2. is it even fundable?
    2. where are like-minded collaborators?
    3. language barriers: identifying connections
    between fields means having to explain yourself
    2+ times in different ways

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  25. Q&A / discussion
    Chris Martens

    [email protected]
    http://go.ncsu.edu/martens
    twitter: @chrisamaphone


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