My first 3 weeks at CQT

It’s been nearly 3 weeks since I came to CQT. I did not make much progress in these 3 weeks but hope to make good progress from now on since I now have more clarity over what I should do in these remaining weeks. One of the goals for my internship is to understand and present the paper ‘Rectangles are Nonnegative Juntas’ by Zuckerman et.al . Till now, I felt intimidated by the paper since I couldn’t really understand anything in the paper after reading some paragraphs in the paper. One way I can approach the paper is by going through every line and trying to understand the things I don’t understand. But, I feel this is too much pain. Therefore, I want to adapt the less efficient(?) but easier way by building up from the basics. First things first, I haven’t yet done any course on the Theory of Computation and I have a constant nagging at the back of my head that I can’t really talk or understand any complexity classes without a clear understanding of what it means to compute. Therefore, my plan for the following weeks is:

  1. This week’s goal is to finish the course on Automata theory on coursera: https://class.coursera.org/automata-003 . This should take around 6×4=24 hours.
  2. After finishing the automata theory course, I intend to read, understand and solve problems from Chapters 1, 2 and 12 from Arora-Barak’s book on Computational complexity. – By the end of next week. Chapter 1 & 2 should take around a day each. Keeping 3 days for Chapter 12 and Lectures 1,2 & 3 from http://www.tcs.tifr.res.in/~prahladh/teaching/2011-12/comm/
  3. After doing the above steps, I am sure I will have a little more confidence to tackle the paper head on. Then, I will skim the entire paper once from starting to end and try to gauge what other things I would be needing to understand the paper.

After passing through this mental ordeal of the 3 weeks without any progress, I have come to the definite conclusion that getting to a publish-worthy idea within these 2 months is close to impossible and that shouldn’t be my goal.

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