Sunday, November 21, 2010

Well, In My Defense...

I gave my Ph.D. thesis defense the other day. It's sort of an odd thing to call it a defense, for a math paper. You argue in the humanities (I think, I haven't spent much time there). In math, you're just presenting facts, it's (sorta) the nice thing about math. Well, that's the ideal, I guess. There were certainly some weak joints in my work, but, as expected, people didn't have enough time to really stress about them. Which is nice.

When the thesis committee told me they were allowed to torture me with questions after everybody left, I told them, "knock yourselves out." Got a little chuckle. One professor asked what the hardest part was. I had wondered if somebody would. The hardest part was convincing myself it was worth doing --- was more worth doing than the other things I wanted to be doing. Luckily, he extended his question a little before I got to it (besides a grin), and I ended up just telling him about what math took the longest to piece together. The same professor asked if I was going to do anything with this later, that it would require some re-writing. I told him I had no intent of doing much with it, but that it would be freely available online, and he could do with it as he liked. He also said they could send me some changes that I should make. I guess when I said "whatever flips your switch", he realized I didn't care much to do them, and he, appropriately, didn't care enough to send the suggested changes to me. I didn't make any comments about how they were still allowed to make me jump through hoops, which is a little too bad.

The talk itself was fun. I do enjoy giving math talks, especially when I understand what I'm talking about. Threw in a couple jokes, got a few chuckles, put at least one professor to sleep. All in a day. I've got some notes about the presentation itself on my other blog. Or you can poke around the thesis material at my homepage.

So that means I'm nearly done. Still some administrative nonsense to do. And still a few weeks of "teaching". But nearly there.

6 comments:

Eric Finster said...

Congrats, man!

cheesemonkeysf said...

Congratulations! This is a gigantic milestone.

Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

sumidiot said...

Thanks, all.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Nick - I'm really glad you did it. You may not care much about the piece of parchment, but you'll be happy you went to the trouble of finishing up (especially, every time you encounter one of those idiots at work who insist on being called "Dr. So-and-So"). Glad you were able to keep it together and not insult the committee outright.

Tom Joad (Ph.D. 1971 - so long ago, I can't remember my dissertation topic anymore)

sumidiot said...

Thanks, Tom. I'm happy to try to avoid thinking about it all for a while, and trust that I will, someday, look back and be glad I did it. All the best to you, in this new year.

Ellen Keller said...

Well, people do get nervous when it their time to defend their thesis. So, it was good that you had fun while you defended yours. It is actually advisable to not get nervous when you are defending the thesis to avoid mistake and make the process even harder.