Q1: What is your view on the purpose, aims and benefits of TCS stackexchange?

Q2: What are your specific aim, targets and benefits in participation at TCS stackexchange?

Comment: I asked a similar question over MO


3 Answers 3


Q1: What is your view on the purpose, aims and benefits of TCS stackexchange?

A clearing house to collect expertise in different areas of TCS, and draw on the wisdom of experts in ways that can't be transmitted just in papers: the "folklore", the "intuition" and even just the pointers. Kind of a virtual "teatime" for researchers in the field.

Q2: What are your specific aim, targets and benefits in participation at TCS stackexchange?

For me personally, I feel happy if this community is thriving: somewhat selfishly, I feel like I had a role in getting it started, so its continued success makes me feel like my time is well spent :). Specifically, I want a resource like this so I can ask questions from time to time (and get answers, as I often do). My participation is therefore a "pay it forward": I contribute so that others might be encouraged to as well, and I have some knowledge that I can share with the community at large.

  • $\begingroup$ thx very much for your pioneering role and huge/deep contributions (such as site promotion) over the years, hope you continue to drop in & never leave $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Jan 26, 2014 at 16:03

A1: I believe TCS stackexchange is the future of doing research or at least an integral part of doing research in the future. It is an innovative medium for research collaboration. It has great potential of morphing into primary method of conducting research in the future.

A2: I am glad to get the chance of interacting with experts in the field and get exposed to interesting research trends and ideas.


personal view on TCS (.se)

(T)CS is a wondrous, fascinating, beautiful, deep, vibrant field. came to it in preteens, heard about public key cryptography from a relative who clipped out an article from a newspaper on it. dad, a jr high school algebra teacher, brought home one of the 1st PCs, programmed bubble sort for fun, explained it to me and said "its slow, it takes $n^2$ time to finish", and I pondered that concept like a deep zen mystery with beginners mind (before knowing what zen was).

in teens, wondered about shannons theorem about hard functions based on counting circuits. and none of them can be constructed. we know they're there, but where are they? what an astonishing deep mystery, almost like a TCS analog of dark matter! and not the only apparent deep parallel between TCS & physics. and still basically open after more than ½-century. truly this field is full of the Everest of problems. many or even most in pristine pre-summited state!

in college, learned/experimented/sought FSM-enlightenment in an intriguing research-oriented attack on one mountain. climbed to a local minimum! also started experimenting with SAT & factoring.

there are many signs computer science is entering or in the middle of a (very long-range?) golden age, and thats motivating, energizing, even at times exciting. its a field-in-motion. cutting edge and an awesome, buzzing-crackling fusion of abstract theory and real-life application.

so, a dream job for me would be high-paying TCS research/applications and have come close to that fantasy in real life over the years. but, later, after working 4 yrs in scientific laboratory alongside graduate students and Phds, realized that combination of terms might be verging mostly on an oxymoron; ie it seemed that scientific researchers (not just those in TCS) didnt seem to be (how to put this delicately) reknowned for their salaries.

am proud to be a contributing part of a rare, unique group that captures some of this energy/momentum/dynamism esp in the way that it connects with applications. ( is my favorite conceptual fusion/paradigm/site tag.) by some very hard work by many dedicated, farsighted, brilliant individuals, cstheory stackexchange is a really superb forum and by far the best venue on the entire cyberspace for that right now, and probably will be for years into the future. it mixes top achievers from academia with the wild open internet (another great/shearing fusion).

TCS is also in the midst and at the forefront of massive/pivotal decade-long shifts and transformations. eg quantum computing, electronic publishing/open science, collaborative filtering, collective wisdom, collective intelligence and amazingly the stackexchange site captures various key elements of all that. am especially interested in cyber collaboration possibilities seen in the groundbreaking polymath model, which is at heart in its radical/dramatic successes not that different than the stackexchange system.

what is [great] TCS? how about simply listing my idiosyncratic personal TCS inspirations/influences/luminary/hero pantheon off the top of my head: Lipton, Fortnow, Jukna, Razborov, Aaronson, Feynman, Shor, Sedgewick, Knuth, Cook, Turing, Mandelbrot, Hofstadter, Wolfram. etc! (of course not coincidentally several are members of cstheory!)

oh, and yeah, (sssh, dont tell anyone), then theres my favorite open problem of so many great ones too choose from Ive been interested for ~2½ decades even long before there was a huge incentive... heaven forbid not claiming a proof but have a few new ideas!

speaking of zen, at rare times one might even think TCS can even reach cosmic/transcendant/spiritual levels! (just had to somehow shamelessly work in the highest-voted question in this essay somehow!)

hey, if theres still any question about my interest/engagement/affinity for this site, just browse/look at my huge favorites list sometime! due to the awesome stackexchange software [built by brilliant software engineers] it can even be searched by keyword eg cc.complexity theory

  • $\begingroup$ ps forgot to cite this, some of the research impinges on LR's great question on the boundary between decidable & undecidable problems $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Jan 24, 2014 at 21:19
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ You did not answer the question at all (at don't seem have intended to), so you get downvoted. That's how SE works. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jan 25, 2014 at 15:20
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @raphael there is long discussion in the meta about downvoting without commenting which can be regarded as impolite. why are you focusing on this minutia and not talking at all about highly relevant issues re modding & site direction youve raised in chat? and what part of the question do you think was not answered? actually do understand very much about how se works and intentionally chooose not to conform to overly rigid imaginary boundaries and arbitrary conventions in my self expr here and have paid the heavy costs for that for 2yrs.... $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Jan 25, 2014 at 15:39
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ You admit that you have been conciously working contrary to the conventions of this site (and general netiquette, I might add) for two years? There goes what was left of Hanlon's razor. Way to publicly announce that you are, by definition of the position, unfit to be a moderator. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jan 25, 2014 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ @raphael read carefully admit to disregarding the bogus groupthink and too rigid/unhealthy social constrictions of the site. why dont you post something eg relevant? are you all cool with the existing moderation here and direction of this group? why did you engage once and then disengage? why are you focused on lambasting an obviously enthusiastic, committed member/volunteer here? why dont you try avoiding scapegoating and blaming the messenger? what is your issue with my intro $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Jan 25, 2014 at 15:56
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ I don't agree with anything you say. Please stop pinging me as long as you are not open to reasoned discourse (which, clearly, you are not). $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Jan 25, 2014 at 16:01

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