We have already discussed the general scope of the blog, and there seems to be some ideas as to what it is. Now that we are starting to write posts, I thought it would be nice to figure out the more technical details. Of particular interest: what length and level of formality should we aim for?

Right now I am writing in a style that is pretty close to how I would write an academic paper. For specific claims I reference the literature with proper citations, and for more general further-interest topics I link to Wikipedia or relevant cstheory questions. Is this too formal? Should we cite specific claims in-text or just have a short bibliography section at the end of the post (or neither?).

This question is for posts in the 'Expository material on particular sub-areas' genre.


I expect Joe to be offline for most of the weekend, so he may come in later and add/change what I am about to say.

Maximum length for a single post: 1000 words. Feel free to write much less, or to write much more and expect the editors to break it into parts that will appear, for example, once a week until done.

The first paragraph or two should be accessible to anyone with "basic TCS maturity." This includes, for example, bright mathematics, physics or philosophy students who know what a "reduction" is. Lay out the issues for the rest of the post, and the intuitive idea that will be made rigorous by the formalisms you are about to introduce.

Then introduce the math, and don't be afraid to be rigorous. However, the rigor has to be supplemented by clear prose. We are not looking for a light, popular science treatment, but we don't want the blog to be obscure and esoteric either. Think Richard Feynmann, not Discover Magazine.

Conclude with a few lines that summarize everything you said. Basic idea: if someone reads the introduction and the conclusion, and nothing in the middle, they still get something valuable out of what you wrote.

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Nice to know about the word limit. I was originally going to write about quantum query complexity + negative adversary method + span programs all in one post, but have already passed the world limited on just part 1. I will break it into 3 posts and make myself less verbose. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Jul 16 '11 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Aaron on pretty much everything above, though I would think 1000 words should be more a guideline than a hard limit. @Artem: I thought your first part looked a good length, so I wouldn't worry. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Jul 17 '11 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ I am just a little worried that at ~1000 words makes the post a bit low on content. @Joe I submitted one for review, tell me if it needs more content. I am also hoping someone writes an intro-to-quantum post before mine is put up, since I don't really explain anything about quantum computing. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Jul 19 '11 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Artem: I thought you had two uploaded. Is the other one not meant for distribution yet? $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Jul 19 '11 at 11:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Joe: no, the second one is a rough-draft for now. I will finish it up soon. I am clicking the "Submit for Review" button when I am comfortable with the post. So I submitted the post explaining query complexity, and I am still finishing up the second post explaining the negative adversary method. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Jul 19 '11 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Artem: Ah, I see. Sorry, I had initially seen both as drafts. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Jul 19 '11 at 22:08
  • $\begingroup$ Aaron and @Joe sorry for the delay, I submitted my second post for review. I had a hard time shortening it, and in the end it is around 1700 words (including the reference section). Let me know if you think parts of the posts are overly verbose/unnecessary and I will remove them. $\endgroup$ – Artem Kaznatcheev Aug 1 '11 at 10:13
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @Artem. :-) $\endgroup$ – Aaron Sterling Aug 1 '11 at 14:23

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