Thursday, August 03, 2006

Meeting with the D-man today

Today was the last day to see my advisor D. I have been trying to meet D for the past few days but he was busy with all sorts of administrative matters since he is the top honcho of our centre and the man responsible for keeping our group alive, financially at least. Being the procrastinator that I am, I had put off talking to him about Fall support until today when I finally managed to grab hold of him at 5pm.

As I was running out of time, I dispensed with the usual niceties and told him that today was the deadline for informing the department about Fall support and that I had emailed him about the matter roughly a week ago. He looked at me and said that it was up to me whether I wanted to carry on with the project. Of course, I said yes - I just spent the entire freaking summer, including one unpaid month, on it. I don't think I can stand another semester of TA-ship. Then, he went on rambling about our project for the next two hours in which I tuned out after the first 15 minutes.

Anyway, the formalism that I derived looks promising and, if numerically verified, can form the basis for at least a couple of papers - one on the formal theory itself and another on an application to a real system. Heck, if everything goes right, several papers on applications can be written up. The only problem is getting D to understand what I've done so far and to help me understand the applications aspect. I have been pretty much on my own so far for this project. Right now, I am playing with a toy model and will try to see how the analytics and the numerics match up. I don't think this project is that important though - there's probably not enough material for a PhD project.

The funding situation may be a little tight though. From what I previously gathered, the project had been given to a postdoc and a grad student. The postdoc did some programming and wrote up a code but made no headway in extending the formalism before he left for a real job. I think that was in the last decade. The project was put on the backburner for several years before a very smart Ukrainian fellow C beat D to the punch and made a breakthrough in a related area in 2000, which looked as if it could be used in the project. D sat up and decided to give the project another shot with a graduate student.

The graduate student made an attempt two summers ago but only succeeded in sucking dry the funding support for this project. I heard that he dropped out of grad school after that summer. So, the remaining funds for this project was used to support me. Going over his notes and calculations for that summer, I can say that he pretty much did nothing. And two months' of funding went down the drain with him. Gaah.

Will be working on the project for the next few months. I hope that C doesn't start working on it. It is not that hard to come up a n>2 version of what he did. It is rather surprising that he hasn't done anything about it even though it is clearly within his ability to do so, judging from the technical depth of his papers.

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