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Member since 09/03/2010
a question anyone ambitious should face...
10/07/2010 / 2:52 am #1
In his famous essay You and Your Research (which I recommend to anyone ambitious, no matter what they're working on), Richard Hamming suggests that you ask yourself three questions:
1. What are the most important problems in your field?
2. Are you working on one of them?
3. Why not?
Hamming was at Bell Labs when he started asking such questions. In principle anyone there ought to have been able to work on the most important problems in their field. Perhaps not everyone can make an equally dramatic mark on the world; I don't know; but whatever your capacities, there are projects that stretch them. So Hamming's exercise can be generalized to:
What's the best thing you could be working on, and why aren't you?
It's a question anyone ambitious should face but mostly shy away from it.
WHY do you think people avoid hitting on the big problems?