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Insecurity - Arvind Narayanan's journal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

Insecurity [Feb. 20th, 2007|11:50 pm]
Arvind Narayanan

Browsing the list of accepted papers at STOC this year, I find that I attended IMOTC (math camp) with FIVE of the authors (of five different papers). Good job, guys! Most of the kids from math camp seem to have stuck with it and appear to be on the road to fulfilling their destiny as serious mathematicians or theoretical computer scientists.

I, on the other hand, after high school, have wandered all over the place in terms of "what I want to be when I grow up" -- at various points I've thought I wanted to be a mathematician, a programmer, a cryptographer, a theoretical computer scientist, or a security/privacy researcher. Right now I'm somewhere between crypto and security, but with significant amounts of programming/datamining and TCS in my daily work life.

I guess the good thing is that I'm reasonably well-conversant with all of those communities, and could still specialize into any of the respective areas if I wanted to (well, except the first). My plan at this point (in terms of job talks, etc.) is to emphasize that you don't need to be one of those things to the exclusion of all the others, and by being a little bit of each, I have insights and tools on problems that you couldn't have otherwise.

I really don't want to specialize, and I really think it's possible to be good at all those things at the same time. Time will tell.

Oh, and there's also Terence Tao among the STOC authors.