CHOOSING A RESEARCH ADVISOR
Choosing a professor for supervising your research is a critical
step of your graduate career.
How do you decide whether a professor is right for you?
There are many considerations, but two are major:
First, and obviously,
it is important that the professor's AREA appeal to you,
whether it is operating systems, networks, databases, graphics,
algorithms, theory of computation, compilers, or whatever.
Second, and equally important but often overlooked,
is that the professor's STYLE of research appeal to you.
Style has to do with the professor's approach, tools, management,
and so on.
Here is a very incomplete list of ways to characterize style:
The professor works very closely with a small number of students.
The professor manages large teams of students,
with "senior" students supervising "junior" students.
The professor works mostly on large implementation projects.
The professor works on a few problems in great depth and precision.
The professor works on a large range of interesting problems
but not in great depth on any one.
- . . .
So before you settle on a professor to be your advisor, find out about their
area and their style:
Read several of their papers and reports, especially recent ones.
Talk to several of their students.
Take one of their classes, if at all possible.