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¶ in conversation
I had an uplifting conversation with an MIT faculty member the other day. Essentially, I was complaining to him that even after all these years of study, I still feel inadequately prepared for the research I'm trying to do, that there's still so much out there that I have no hope of even catching up to the current state of research in my field. It's not just that the computer science is hard, it's that there are all of these other disciplines intermingled with it that in order to have a solid understanding of what's going on, I feel like I need a solid understanding of both fields. Last week, I found myself bombarded with all these physics terms - Bethe free energy equations, Kikuchi approximations, minimizing entropy - that just went way over my head and I felt quite inadequate.

Anyway, the uplifting part of this experience was that this professor confessed to me that half the time, he didn't understand everything either. There are a select few faculty members, he said, who do get everything and they are truly amazing. As for him, he felt fine knowing that even without grasping everything to the same degree of sophistication they did, he was still able to contribute meaningfully. He never bothered trying to understand when the physicists tried to butt into his field and offer their interpretation of the subject, because he could always understand it in some other way that didn't involve arcane theorems named after dead Eastern Europeans. And that got me thinking - wow, if this professor at MIT, who I have the greatest respect for, doesn't always get this stuff all the time, maybe there's hope for me after all.

So the moral of the story is that I don't feel as much pressure to learn what a Kikuchi approximation is anymore.

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