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Showing posts from January, 2013

My mobile systems research wish list

Working on mobile systems at Google gives me some insight into what the hard open problems are in this space. Sometimes I am asked by academic researchers what I think these problems are and what they should be working on. I've got a growing list of projects I'd really like to see the academic community try to tackle. This is not to say that Google isn't working on some of these things, but academics have fewer constraints and might be able to come up with some radically new ideas.

Disclaimer: Everything in this post is my personal opinion and does not represent the view of my employer, or anyone else. In particular, sending a grant proposal to Google on any of the following topics will by no means guarantee it will be funded!

First, a few words on what I think academics shouldn't be working on. I help review proposals for Google's Faculty Research Awards program, and (in my opinion) we get too many proposals for things that Google can do (or is already doing) alre…

The ethics of mobile data collection

The mobile computing and networking research communities need to start paying closer attention to the data collection practices of researchers in our field. Now that it's easy to write mobile apps that collect data from real users, I'm going to argue that computer science publication venues should start requiring authors to document whether they have IRB approval for studies involving human subjects, and how the study participants were consented. This documentation requirement is standard in the medical and social science communities, and it makes sense for computer science conferences and journals to do the same. Otherwise I fear we run the risk of accepting papers that have collected data unethically, hence rewarding researchers for not adequately protecting the privacy of the study participants.

I am often asked to review papers in which the authors have deployed a mobile phone app that collects data about the app's users. In some cases, these apps are overtly used for…

How to get a faculty job, Part 3: Negotiating the offer

This is the third (actually fourth) part in this series on how to get a faculty job in Computer Science. Part 1 and Part 1b dealt with the application process, and Part 2 was about interviewing. In this post, I'll talk about what happens when you get a job offer and how to negotiate when you have multiple offers.

There is often a long and painful wait from the time you complete the interview until you hear back from the school about whether they will be making you an offer. This is generally because all (or most) of the candidates need to complete interviews before the final hiring decisions are made, and the actual offer needs to be approved by the department or school administration before the candidate can be given the good news. Depending on how early you interview, this wait can be on the order of a month or two. (Generally, candidates interview between February and April, and offers start getting made around April or May.) Sometimes a school won't contact you at all aft…