You and your work *

Long material. Reading time - about 40 minutes. I> sup>

Dr. Richard Hamming, professor of marine School in Monterey, California, and a retired scientist Bell Labs, read the March 7, 1986 a very interesting and stimulating lecture on "You and your research" crowded audience of about 200 employees and guests Bellcore at a seminar in a series of colloquia at Bell Communications Research. This lecture describes the observations in the Hamming part of the question, "Why are so few scientists make significant contributions to science and so many are forgotten in the long run?". During his more than forty-year career, thirty years that have passed in the Bell Laboratories, he made a number of direct observations, scientists asked very pointed questions about what, how, where, why they were doing and what they were doing, studied the lives of great scientists and great achievements, and led introspection and studied the theory of creativity. This lecture about what he learned about the properties of individual scientists, their abilities, traits, work habits, attitude and philosophy.

Presentation of Dr. Richard Hamming h4>
Richard Hamming was presented to Alan Chynoweth, vice president of Applied Research at Bell Communications Research. I>

Greetings, colleagues, and many of our former colleagues from Bell Labs, which, as I understand it, is with us today on this very appropriate event. I am really delighted to present to you my old friend and longtime colleague - Richard Hamming, or Dick Hamming, as he was always known to all of us.

Dick - one of the classics of mathematics and computer science, what, I'm sure the audience does not need to be reminded. He received his early education at the universities of Chicago and Nebraska, and a doctorate in Illinois; Then he joined the Los Alamos project during the war. Then, in 1946-ohm, he came to Bell Labs. There I met him when he joined the organization of research in physics. In those days, we, a group of physicists who had the habit of eating together, and for some reason, this weird guy from mathematics was always glad to join us. We were always happy with his presence, because he brings so many original ideas and views. I can assure you that those meals stimulated.

I think the last time I met him - it was about ten years ago - a rather curious little conference in Dublin, where we both were. As always, he was stunningly interesting. Just as an example of daring thoughts that it produces, I remember, he said: "There are wavelengths that humans can not see, sounds that humans can not hear, and maybe computers have thought that people may not think" . Well, Dick Hamming we do not need a computer. I think we got on extremely fascinating lecture.

Lecture: "You and your research," Dr. Richard Hamming h4>
I am pleased to be here. I doubt that I can conform to this view. My lecture is called "You and your research." It is not about managing research; it is about how you personally conducts its work. I could give a lecture on another topic, but I will talk about you. I'm not talking about the ordinary, unremarkable work; I'm talking about the great work. To make it clear what I call a great job, sometimes I'll say "work for the Nobel Prize." It does not have to receive the Nobel Prize, but I mean things that we think are great. The theory of relativity, if you want, Shannon's information theory, any other prominent theory - about things I say.

I started to learn it? In Los Alamos took me to support computers that have put other people to scientists and physicists could get back to the business. I saw that I was just a boy. Although physically I was the same, they were different. And I, frankly, jealous. I wanted to know why they are so different from me. I saw Feynman close. I saw Fermi and Teller. I saw Oppenheimer. I saw Hans Bethe - he was my boss. I've seen enough of very capable people. I became very interested, what's the difference between people who are doing meaningful things, and people who do not make them.

When I came to Bell Labs, I came into a very productive department. Bod at the time was head of the department; there was Shannon and others. I continued to study the question "why?" And "What's the difference?". I continued to read biographies and autobiographies, asking people questions like, "How did you come to that, to do this?". I tried to open it, what's the difference. It is about them and I will tell.

Why is this important lecture? I think it is important, because each of you have only one life. Even if you believe in reincarnation, it will not help you from life to life! Why in this life to do meaningful things, whatever you considered significant? I will not say that significant. You know what I mean. I will talk mainly about science because that's what I learned. But much of what I have seen, is applicable to other areas. Outstanding work is characterized by practically the same in most areas, I'm just talking about science.

To reach out to you personally, I have to speak in the first person. I have to do to make you drop modesty and say to yourself: "Yes, I want to do an excellent job." Our society disapproving looks at those who intend to do a really good job. "You do not have to. You must descend luck and you do something great chance ". Well, it's very stupid. I say, why do not you have the intention to do something meaningful. You do not have to talk about it to others. But is not necessary to say to yourself, "Yes, I want to do something meaningful»?

( Translated: paragraph missing i>).

Let me start not logically and psychologically. Great objection that I can see - this is the opinion that great science is done at random. "It's all a matter of chance." But look at Einstein. Notice how many different good things he did. Was it all luck? Is it too much? Look at Shannon. He did not just information theory. A few years before he did some other good things, some of which are still locked under lock and key cryptography. He did a lot of good things.

You see again and again that fit people make in the lives of more than one good thing. Sometimes a person does only one thing in his life, and we'll talk about it later. But very often there is a recurrence. I say that luck does not explain everything. And I quote Pasteur, who said: "Luck favors the prepared mind." It expresses how I feel. Indeed, there is an element of luck, and yet it is not. The prepared mind sooner or later finds something important and does it. So yes, it's luck. What exactly do you do - it is luck; but the fact that you do something - no.

For example, when I came to Bell Labs, I have for some time shared the office with Shannon. Even as he studied the theory of information, I was coding theory. Suspicious that we have done so in the two same location in the same time - it was in the air. And you can say that it was an accident. On the other hand, you might say, "But why, among all the people at Bell Labs at the time were the two who did it?" Yes, this is partly luck, and partly - prepared mind. On the "partly" I will speak. So, even though I'll be back a few more times to luck, I want to get rid of the idea that luck - the only factor that determines you do great work or not. I would argue that you have some, albeit incomplete, control over this. And I quote from Newton on this topic. Newton said: "If others thought the same tense, like me, they would get similar results».

One of the characteristics that many people have, including the great scholars - is that when they were young, they were usually independent thought and courage to deal with them. For example, Einstein at the age of about 12 or 14 years to ask myself: "What would the world look a wave, if I was moving at the speed of light, to look at it?" He knew that the electromagnetic theory says that can not be fixed local maximum. But if he was moving near the speed of light wave, he would see a local maximum. He could see a contradiction in 12, 14 years or so - that it was wrong and that the speed of light was something special. Is it an accident that, in the end, he created a special theory of relativity? Already early he laid some pieces, thinking of fragments. This is a necessary but insufficient condition. All these things that I will say - is both an accident and not an accident.

What about the presence of large "brains"? Sounds good. Many of you in this room probably enough brains to do an excellent job. But the great work - this is something other than just brains. Brains measured differently. In mathematics, theoretical physics, astrophysics, typically brains heavily correlated with the ability to manipulate symbols. And because conventional IQ tests tend to evaluate them fairly high. On the other hand, in other areas it is something else. I once went to Bill Pfann - the guy who did the band melting. He had a vague idea of ​​what he wanted, and there were some equation. It was clear that this man did not know too much math and could not clearly express thoughts. His task seemed interesting, so I took it home and did some work. I finally showed him how to use computers, so that he could calculate their answers. I gave him the opportunity to calculate. He moved forward, without any approval from their department, but in the end he had collected all the prizes in his field. As soon as he moved, his awkwardness, his tongue-tie disappeared, and he became much more productive, and many others. Certainly, it is much better to express ideas.

And I also can not call a man named Clogston. I think it is not in the audience. I met him when I was working with a group of John Pierce, and I did not think that it has something to represent. I asked my friends who studied with him if he was the same in graduate school. They replied that "yes." I would have fired this guy, but John Pierce was smart and left him. Clogston eventually made cable Clogston. After he had a steady stream of good ideas. One success brought him confidence and courage.

One of the characteristics of successful scientists - courage. When you become a brave and believe that you can deal with important tasks, then you can. If you think you can not, you almost certainly will not. Courage - one of the things that were on the Shannon in abundance. You need only think of his fundamental theorem. He wants to create a method of encoding, but does not know what to do, so it creates a random code. Then he gets stuck. And then he asks the impossible question: "What would the average random code do?" He then proves that the average code is arbitrarily good, and so must be at least one good code. Who, no matter how a man with infinite courage, dare to think these thoughts? This property is of great scientists: they have the courage. They go forward with incredible circumstances; they think and continue to think.

Age - another factor that is particularly experienced physics. They always say that you have to make it when you're young, or you never can not do it. Einstein did his work at a very early age, and all the guys from quantum mechanics were disgustingly young when done their best work. Most mathematicians, theoretical physicists and astrophysicists do what we consider their best work when they are young. Not that they do not do a good job in the old age, but we most appreciate what they did early. On the other hand, music, politics and literature that we believe best work is often done in a later age. I do not know where on this scale is your area, but there is an effect of age.

But let me say why age seems to have such an effect. For starters, if you do some good work, you will find that were in all sorts of committees and more unable to work. You may find that you like Brattain when he received the Nobel Prize. On the day when the announced prize, we all gathered in the auditorium of Arnold. All three winners got up and said speech. Brattain almost with tears in his eyes, said: "I know that the effect of the Nobel Prize, and I will not let it affect me. I will remain good old Walter Brattain. " "Well," - I said to myself - "it's great." But a few weeks later, I saw that it affects him. Now he could only work on more tasks.

When you're famous, it is difficult to work on small tasks. That's what killed Shannon. After information theory, what else can you do? The great scientists often make this mistake. They cease to plant little acorns from which grow mighty oaks. They are trying to do something big. A does not work. This is another reason that you find when you get early recognition, it is as if you sterilize. I'll give you his favorite saying many years. Institute for advanced studies at Princeton, in my opinion, has ruined more good scientists than any other institution created, judging by what they were doing before they got there, and beyond. Not that they were not good then. But they were great to him, and only after just good.

This raises, may be slightly out of turn, the issue of working conditions. What most people consider the best working conditions, are not. It is clear that they are not because people are often most productive when working conditions are bad. One of the best periods Laboratory of Physics at Cambridge was when they were practically huts - they do a better job then the physics of all time.

I will bring the story of his own life. It quickly became clear that Bell Labs did not give me the right amount of programmers to program computers in absolute binary code. It was clear that will not give. But everything worked that way. I could go to the west coast and easy to get a job in airlines, but interesting people were in the Bell Labs, and the guys in the airlines were not interested. I've been thinking, I want to go or not, and I thought, how do I combine the best of both possible worlds. I finally said to myself, "Hamming, because you think that machines can do almost everything. Why can not you do that they wrote the program? "What at first seemed to me a lack of very early made me do automatic programming. What seems like a disadvantage, if you change the point of view is often one of the best of your advantage. But it is unlikely you will think so when you first see the state of affairs and say, "Ooh, I'll never get enough programmers, so I'll have something worthwhile program?»

There are many similar stories. At Grace Hopper has a similar history. I think if you look closely, you will see that often the great scientists, by turning a little problem paying disadvantage into an advantage. For example, many scientists when they find that they can not engage in the task, finally began to study why they can not. They then turned it in another way and say, "Well, of course, because this is it." And got an important result. Therefore, the ideal working environment - this is something very strange. Conditions that you want is not always good for you.

Now, about the drive. You can see that most great scientists stunning drive. I worked for ten years with John Tukey at Bell Labs. He was an amazing drive. Once in three or four years since I joined, I discovered that John Tukey was slightly younger than me. John was a genius, and I was obviously not. Well, I flew into account Boda and asked: "How anyone in my age may know as much as John Tukey?" Bod leaned back in his chair, put his hands behind his head, smiled a little and said, "You would be surprised Hamming, how would you know if it worked for many years as much as he does. " I just crawled out of the office!

Bod said here: "Knowledge and productivity - this is the cumulative percentage." Take two people approximately equal capacity, one of which operates at ten percent larger than the other, and eventually it would be more than twice as productive. The more you know, the more you recognize; The more you recognize, the more you can do; The more you can do, the more opportunities. This is very similar to the savings percentage. I would not call a bet, but it is very high. Take two people with exactly the same power, and the one who manages day-to-day thinking on an hour more will eventually be much more productive. I took note Boda to heart. I spend a lot more of your time to try to work a little more and found that actually can do more. I do not like to say it in front of his wife, but I do it sometimes neglected, because I had to work. You should ignore the different things if intend to do what you want.


I do not know.

There is a difference.

How Come?

I do not mind.

I just do not want to.


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