Inverting the Core

Boyden, E. S. (2008) "Inverting the Core." Ed Boyden's Blog. Technology Review. 7/14/08. (

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When I was a new student at MIT, there were legends of a math class in which the professor would occasionally assign an unsolved (and possibly unsolvable) problem. And every now and then, a student would resoundingly nail it. Soon after arriving at MIT, I was successfully spending my leisure hours inventing control algorithms for underwater robots, writing physics-based computer animation engines, devising new pattern-recognition algorithms, and building new kinds of NMR spectrometers. Now, more than a decade later, and being a professor myself, it’s clear that some of the most valuable learning I did at MIT occurred during the solving of real-world problems. Simply put, in the Internet age, once you learn the basic core material, perhaps the best way to direct the growth of learning is to chase down real-world problems and fix them. You learn how to wrestle with failure, and how to get the resources you need. …