Monday, May 08, 2006

"Give us something to take home!"

One of the pieces I keep reading over and over again is Gian-Carlo Rota's "Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught."

I am always reminded of his advice that a speaker should always try to give her/his audience something to take home when I am attending a talk that seems to lack a clear message. (And there are still quite a few of those, alas.) This is all the more true when we are trying to address an audience that is not made up of experts in the topic we wish to present.

I tried to pay heed to Rota's advice when preparing my invited talk for the Workshop on Logic, Models and Computer Science, held in Camerino from April 20 till April 22. The organizers of that workshop were kind enough to give me the opportunity to try and present some of the work my co-authors and I have done on negative results in the equational logic of processes to an audience consisting of distinguished logicians and computer scientists. This was an audience I would normally not reach with my work, and it remains to be seen whether I was even remotely successful in my attempt to reach them then. However, during the talk, I felt that being single-minded in my message was indeed helping me keep on the right track. In case anybody is interested, the slides I used for the talk are available as a PDF file.

The advice we give others is the advice that we ourselves need. I'll keep repeating Rota's mantra to myself whenever I have a talk to prepare. The results may not be good, but I'll try.

[Something I noticed in the workshop in Camerino was that people were not really ready to ask questions to the speakers. There is possibly a different tradition in Logic from the one in Computer Science, where it is the done thing to make sure that there is at least one question---no matter how routine it may be---following each talk.]

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L.Dvoryansky said...
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