Some shameful facts about myself

  • In 2003, I predicted that it would take decades before videoconferencing became cheap enough for home users.
  • I do not know my own telephone number or postal code, though I have lived for many years in the same house (and we own it). I do not know my office number. I do not know my social insurance number. 
  • For the longest time, I thought that getting a Ph.D. was sufficient to get decent jobs, if not within academia, at least in industry. (That’s wrong.)
  • Once I file anything in a folder or inside a desk, I am certain never to find it again. Anything not directly on my desk is lost forever. I am not kidding. That is why I run a paperless office.
  • I once thought that computing the Hamming distance took quadratic time.
  • I can no longer understand my older research papers such as “Fourier analysis of 2-point Hermite interpolatory subdivision schemes” and “A family of 4-point dyadic multistep subdivison schemes”. I cannot even understand the abstract of these papers. I could not prove I wrote them.
  • I lost all the electronic copies of my Ph.D. thesis the same day I sent the second revised version to the printer. Though I had backups, I overwrote all the backups with an empty file, by accident. Had they requested a second round of revisions, I would have had to retype my thesis.
  • My wife is much smarter than I am. If she did not manage our money, I would probably put all my savings in a checking account or I might forget where the money is.
  • I am somewhat of a diva: I guard my schedule against intrusions as if time spent on my research was very important. I am convinced that my research matters.

Daniel Lemire, "Some shameful facts about myself," in Daniel Lemire's blog, June 12, 2009.

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

9 thoughts on “Some shameful facts about myself”

  1. I lost the electronic version of my PhD thesis somewhere along the way. Just as well. Nobody would want to read it anyway.

    Fortunately, I do have an electronic version of my undergraduate thesis. A few people have found it useful.

  2. That’s an interesting list. Oddly, I remember every phone number i’ve ever had (about a dozen now). I do not regard this as a good use of neurons.

  3. “Schemas d’interpolation et ondelettes” I assume? Proquest has digitized it and it’s in their Proquest Dissertions & Theses database.

    I can send you a copy if UQAM doesn’t subscribe. Assuming you actually still want an electronic copy 😉

  4. Heh, that reminds me of that incident where I predicted loudly and for all to hear that the Berlin Wall would never fall in my own lifetime.

  5. I can very much related to the research papers problem. 🙁

    I don’t have any old published research papers, ‘though I have a bunch of posts, academic papers and unfinished articles from back when I was a mathematician.

    If I try really really hard I can usually understand them. But it’s hard to believe that I wrote them.

  6. Oh dear,

    I can identify with a few of those, especially the phone number one.

    I’m ashamed to say that I once thought I had invented n-grams. My advisor said nothing to me when I told him all about my ground-breaking discovery. He just pulled out a load of papers dating way back and gave them to me. Lesson learnt: always do the research first 🙂

    I lose everything, apparently it’s quite usual for information retrieval people to lose all their information constantly.

  7. Plusieurs des éléments de cette liste me font penser à moi… J’ai par exemple toujours une copie de ma thèse, mais je ne retrouve plus mon mémoire et je ne sais même pas ce qui a pu arriver au fichier!!!

    Par contre, je ne comprend pas comment tu arrive à garder le contrôle sur ton agenda. Peux-tu SVP nous dire comment tu y arrives? Ça fait maintenant 5 ans que je travaille à l’UQAC et ça me semble impossible. Il y a toujours un comité ou une réunion…

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