Research Proposal Commentary

Yanyan Jiang


Beware of the deadlines!

  • A2 (research proposal draft): Today
  • A3 (presentation video): Nov 25

Research Proposal Commentary

  • Writing traps and pitfalls (again)
  • Comments on research proposals

Writing Traps and Pitfalls (Again)

Logic Flow


  • Introduction
    • Paragraph 1
      • Topic sentence
    • Paragraph 2
      • Topic sentence
    • Paragraph 3
      • Topic sentence
    • ...
  • (And everything is logically connected)

Logic Flow (cont'd)

Example (again)

  • Story and problem
    • Storage systems ... have a simple, basic contract: you give them data, they do not lose or corrupt it. Often they store the only copy, making its irrevocable loss almost arbitrarily bad. Unfortunately, their code is exceptionally hard to get right, ...
    • This paper describes EXPLODE, a system that makes it easy to systematically check real storage systems for errors.
  • Evidences
    • It found serious bugs in a broad range of real storage systems (without requiring source code): ... We found bugs in every system we checked, 36 bugs in total, typically with little effort.

Logic Flow (cont'd)

Just like coding

  DEFINE(lose or corrupt data) as Data-loss;
  CLAIM(storage system -> NOT(Data-loss));
  CLAIM(Data-loss -> arbitrarily bad) as Bad;
  CLAIM(storage system code hard to get right)
    IMPLIES(Data-loss -> Bad);
  CLAIM(make storage system code “more right”)
  • Text = Abstract Syntax Tree
  • Logic flow = control and data flow!

Be Precise and Concise

The opposite:

  • Vague
  • Verbose


  • Against vagueness
    • Is everything well defined without ambiguity?
    • Does every word fit its context?
    • Adversarial argument: $\textrm{vagueness}(s) = \displaystyle \max_{s' \equiv s} d(s', s)$
  • Against verbosity
    • Optimization: $\displaystyle \textrm{minify}(s) = \argmin_{s' \equiv s} |s'|$