Grad School advice

I've been lurking on these forums for a couple years now, and you guys have really pushed my interest in programming languages. I recently graduated college with a bachelor's in computer science, minoring in math. Now I'm taking a year off before I go to grad school, hopefully to get my Ph.D. I would like to pursue areas of overlap between abstract math and computer science in general, and programming language theory in particular. For example, I would like to study category theory as it applies to functional languages, and how to formalize methods of abstraction. I would also like to study type systems, and perhaps their connections to formal logic systems and theorem proving.

This being a fairly specific area of study, I've had trouble doing research on grad schools. I know a lot of you are in academia, and I would really like to get some advice on what schools have good programs and good faculty. Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

Patrick Schultz

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Some quick advice

Take a look at the POPL or (particularly) ICFP proceedings from the last few years to find where people are doing work you are interested in. You could also look at CTCS (Category Theory in Computer Science). I'd provide links but you will have to do your own research (read: I'm too lazy).

Try to find a places with several possible advisors---you don't know how your interests will change by the time you start the dissertation, or how your personality will mesh with any particular faculty member. You are also somewhat immune to the departure of a single faculty member (which sometimes happens).


Full disclosure: Indiana University is my alma mater.

Having said that, with Douglas Hofstadter in Cognitive Science, Raymond Smullyan in Philosophy, and Dan Friedman in Computer Science, to name just a few, IU is one heck of a school for the serious geek.


A lot depends on personalities and other things that people don't want to discuss in public forums. I suggest following Kevin's advice to narrow the field to a couple of schools. Once you do that, you might try to contact by email LtU members that are acquainted with these schools to get more details.

Any reader who is willing to provide private advice will likely get in touch with you, if you provide an email address.


Thank you all who replied. I will have to start reading those journals. If anybody would be willing to talk to me privately about specific schools as Ehud mentioned, my email is "patrickschultz AT usa DOT net".

Links, links, links

Here are some links to advice on being/becoming a grad student. Hope some of them are useful for you.

More links

Ah yes, that reminds me. Marie Des Jardins' How to Be a Good Graduate Student is a classic and a must-read. (There is also a printable copy on the net somewhere...)

And check out Grad Student Resources on the Web, and the "Similar Sites" there.


you might chat on irc with people. the haskell group had quite a few people doing research in various places, or about to start, when i last visited, and i'm sure they'd be happy to swap anecdotes/advice etc.