Choosing a grad school

I have about 2 days to choose a grad school. I got into UCLA, UCSD, and UO.

When I applied to grad schools, I said that I enjoy doing research in computational complexity. That could change, since I've only had half a course on complexity (I understand P, NP and NP-completeness, and PSPACE and PSPACE-completeness). I might end up doing research in Algorithms (parallel? randomized?), Cryptography, HCI, HCI ⋂ Security, Programming Languages, or Programming Languages ⋂ Security.

I visited UO last week and had a great time. Many UO CS grad students play chess and settlers, hike, and have senses of humor I agree with. Most of them speak English. On Saturday, Peter (a Mudd alum) and James took me on a hike up Spencer's Butte, which overlooks Eugene. I feel like I'd have good friends and maybe even be social if I went to UO.

I would probably have fun doing algorithms at UO's Computational Intelligence Research Lab. Right now, they're doing some impressive stuff with... [I'm under NDA and don't know how public this information is]. But I don't know whether CIRL would fund me. And Matt's belief that P = NP scares me, even if he'll settle for merely laying the groundwork for someone else to prove that NP = coNP.

Unfortunately, nobody at UO researches Complexity. Peter went there wanting to study Complexity, but he couldn't find any profs at UO researching Complexity (and his interests changed), so now he's studying graph drawing. I want to at least have the option to study Complexity rather than Algorithms.

I've also visited UCLA and UCSD, but I only spent 6-8 hours visiting each of them. UCSD and UCLA have higher-ranked departments than UO and are closer to home in Palos Verdes. UCSD has an established Algorithms and Complexity group, while UCLA has hired several professors in the last 2 years in an attempt to build a similar group. UCLA seems to be slightly better at Algorithms and UCSD seems to be better at Complexity. Funding at UCLA seemed sketchy, but I might have misinterpreted something.

I think I'm going to go to UCSD.

My decision matrix

3 Responses to “Choosing a grad school”

  1. Afriend Says:

    Choose UCSD. To me looks like they are getting better and better by each year.

  2. jcurious Says:

    I have this belief that if any government or criminal element discovers that someone can show P = NP, that person would “disappear”

  3. erjika Says:

    *is highly amused by your matrix* By the way, walking distance is relative, but if you live in UTC (where most students live), you’ll never be farther than 15 minutes from the shuttle, which runs every 8-10 minutes!