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

September 03, 2017

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

PLMW 2017 keynote


September 03, 2017

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. about you you’re in a beautiful city with fellow nerds

    relax and enjoy your time! 
 take down time if you need it.
  4. how many of you have felt like…. You can’t decide

    on a thesis topic because too many things are interesting?
  5. 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?
  6. my research computational narrative
 procedural generation
 programming language

 formal methods (algebra, logic)
 game design
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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)
  10. research fields that currently or aspirationally inform my research: -

    visual narrative theory (comics, film)
 - cognitive science
 - systems biology
 - linguistics
 - sociology
 - history
 - theater
 - category theory
  11. in search of a label PL? formal methods? (more concerned

    with the minutiae of programs than in what they are enabling)
  12. in search of a label AI? (synonymous with machine learning

    in most people’s minds; ambiguous connotations)
  13. anti-disciplinary a phrase I stole from Golan Levin (CMU) who

    stole it from the MIT Media Lab i think
  14. anti-disciplinary not combining 2+ disciplines but lying outside of discipline

    boundaries entirely overlapping or containing other “established” disciplines
  15. anti-disciplinary who winds up here? anecdotally:
 often people who already

    feel like outsiders in traditional disciplines (women, URMs, LGBT+)
  16. identify your values some of mine: * basic research *

    fields outside of CS (and STEM) have valid and valuable research methodologies
  17. 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
  18. 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