I finally finished grad school. I’m now officially a Ph.D., though as in many things it’s pretty clear that the journey was more important than the destination. A (Ph.D.) friend of mine put it, roughly, this way:

When you get your Ph.D., you don’t feel euphoric; you feel relieved. It’s as if someone pulled a knife out of your back.

… and that about sums it up. Here are a few things I learned along the way (in no particular order):

  • I love teaching. I TAed two classes and taught another. Loved them all. Teaching is now definitely a long-term career goal of mine.
  • I love coding. NewsDog, Sudoku Slam, Total Fragmentation, and now Modista. There’s a joy in good engineering, a beauty in elegant design, and real satisfaction in making something that people can use.
  • I like, but don’t love, research. Sadly, I’m now cynical about “selling” research, choose-your-own benchmarks, and the chance that anything cool will ever get used in the real world. Some people love the thrill of it, but I guess I don’t. When I started, academia seemed purer than business. But it quickly became clear that not much is different: the currency is simply fame instead of money. At the same time, I’m proud of what I’ve done, even if it won’t lead to anything practical. There’s some nice stuff in there, I suppose. (I still think that the proofs Bill and I did for the unpublished bin-packing paper are the most elegant I’ve contributed to.)
  • I love California, as a perusal of the photo-entries of this blog will attest.
  • I love playing the guitar, and wish I could play more often. Soon, perhaps.
  • I love playing ultimate (frisbee).
  • I love Bekah.

On the ultimate frisbee note, I just finished my four year “college” career playing for Cal. It ended on a low high note, if that’s possible. It was a huge time commitment — 5-6 days a week, nearly year round — but also very rewarding, and I made several great friends on the team. I reached a certain level of competence (a starting player for a top 10 team, some nice highlight photos), but never greatness. (I suppose that is how I am with most things.) It was really fun, though, and I’m sad to stop playing — though I’ll treasure my now-free weekends.

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5 Responses to Done

  1. walther says:

    dude, you finished! congrats, Doctor Shankar! look out world.

  2. Anonymous says:

    congratulations, Doc

    Joy! Very very happy for you, and the relief, and the wonderful, wonderful gift of weekends and time. Liberation!! Enjoy. So great to see you recently, and looking forward to July. beth xx

  3. wasabisabi says:

    AJ, I think you’re the man. Congrats.

  4. wingerz says:


    nice job on finishing! maybe some day you’ll publish a textbook like your dad!

  5. vchou says:

    congrats!! wow, time has flown.