HLF 2018 Comes to an End

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Laureates of mathematics and computer science meet the next generation
Heidelberg Laureate Forum

The 6th annual Heidelberg Laureate Forum ended with a tour, reception, and lovely dinner at Heidelberg Castle. It was a time for reflection and celebration for an amazing once-in-a-lifetime week for the students.

As a journalist, it was fascinating for me to watch the students grow more confident as the week went on. By Friday, they were able to go up to the laureates and strike up a conversation about their work, Heidelberg, or even the dessert that we were eating. The laureates themselves really felt like they knew the students, sometimes referring to them by their first name in the hallway. This is what the HLF does so well. It provides so many wonderful opportunities for students and laureates to meet and mingle that, by the end of the week, conversations flow easily, collaborations naturally develop, and friendships are made.

I spent last week blogging about the scientific talks and my conversations with the students but there was also an element of personal advice and mentorship throughout the week. For my last 2018 HLF blog, I wanted to highlight some examples, particularly talks given by two computer scientists. These talks really drove home the message that these laureates did not set out to be the best in their field, but with a little self-confidence and determination, they achieved just that.

Here are some examples of the personal advice given to the students:

Dave Patterson’s “What Worked Well For Me

  • Maximize personal happiness vs. personal wealth
  • Family first!
  • Passion and courage
    • Swing for the fences vs. bunt for singles
  • “Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.”
  • Winning as a team vs. winning as an individual
    • “No losers on a winning team, no winners on a losing team.”
  • Seek out honest feedback & learn from it
    • Guaranteed danger sign: “I’m the smartest person in the room.”
  • One (big) thing at a time
    • “It’s not how many projects you start, It’s how many you finish.”
  • Natural born optimist

Martin Hellman’s “Ingredients for Successful Research

  • The wisdom of foolishness
    • “If I am going to be afraid of it, I should understand it first.”
    • “The fool goes where no one else goes.”
  • Embrace your fears
  • Beginner’s mind
    • “I did my best work in crypto when I knew much less than I do now.”
  • Embrace the irrational
    • “If we only did research rationally and linearly, we would never get breakthrough results.”
  • Even great papers are sometimes rejected

If you are interested in applying for the 7th annual HLF (September 22-27th, 2019), please keep checking this website. The application will be posted at the end of November. So “embrace your fears” and “swing for the fences” and do not miss this opportunity next year!

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Helen Wright is the Computing Research Association's Computing Community Consortium (CCC) Senior Program Associate. She interacts with members of the research community and policy makers by being one of the main contributors to the CCC Blog. The goal of the CCC is to strengthen the research community, articulate compelling research visions, and align those visions with pressing national and global challenges. Helen's interests are in computer science, biology, and science communication. She holds a bachelor’s of science in biology as well as a master’s of science in ecology and evolutionary biology from the University of Virginia. You can follow her on twitter: @compcomcon

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