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What’s your advice for undergraduate student who aspires to be a research scientist in deep learning or related field one day?

What’s your advice for undergraduate student who aspires to be a research scientist in deep learning … by Yann LeCun

Answer by Yann LeCun:

  • (0) take all the continuous math and physics class you can possibly take. If you have the choice between “iOS programming” and “quantum mechanics”, take “quantum mechanics”. In any case, take Calc I, Calc II, Calc III, Linear Algebra, Probability and Statistics, and as many physics courses as you can. But make sure you learn to program.
  • (1) Take an AI-related problem you are passionate about.
  • (2) think about it on your own
  • (3) once you have formed your own idea of it, start reading the literature on the problem
  • (4) you will find that (a) your ideas were probably a bit naive but (b) your view of the problem is slightly different from what was done before.
  • (5) Find a professor in your school that can help you make your ideas concrete. It might be difficult. Professors are busy and don’t have much time for undergrads. The ones with the most free time are the very junior, the very senior, and the ones who are not very active in research.
  • (6) If you don’ find a professor with spare time, hook up with a postdoc or PhD student in his/her lab.
  • (7) ask the professor if you can attend his/her lab meetings and seminars or sit in his/her class.
  • (8) Before you graduate, try to write a paper about your research or release a piece of open source code.
  • (9) Now apply to PhD programs. Forget about the “ranking” of the school for now. Find a reputable professor who works on topics that you are interested in. Pick a person whose papers you like or admire.
  • (10) Apply to several PhD programs in the schools of the above-mentioned professors and mention in your letter that you’d like to work with that professor but would be open to work with others.
  • (11) ask your undergrad professor to write a recommendation letter for you. It’s maximally efficient if your undergrad professor is known by your favorite PhD advisor.
  • (12) if you don’t get accepted in one of your favorite PhD programs, get a job at Facebook or Google and try to get a gig as an engineer assisting research scientists at FAIR or Google Brain.
  • (13) publish a papers with the research scientists in question. Then re-apply to PhD programs and ask the FAIR or Google scientists you work with to write a recommendation letter for you.

What’s your advice for undergraduate student who aspires to be a research scientist in deep learning or related field one day?

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