I was just indulging in my favorite bad habit (reading hacker news), when I came across a discussion about prestige in faculty hiring - namely, the fact that the majority of CS professors across the US come from the top 18 or so universities, and that even within that, there's bias. The HN discussion turned to Ph.D. admissions, with a commenter noting:
"I'm not sure, but I'd bet that the best institutions actually don't care where their applicants come from. They can afford to just choose the best. It's the so-so places that have to signal their quality by 'hiring the best'. I've seen this in graduate school applications - students with poor marks often stand a better chance of admittance in a top program than a so-so one."
I just finished chairing the CMU CS Ph.D. admissions committee, so I thought it might be worth writing down my experience in doing so. With two very important notes:
I woke up on May 28th, 2014, on vacation with my family in the middle of the desert, to find a copy of my private source code plastered across the bitcointalk message board. Announced as a "new optimized version" of the Monero currency miner, it was enthusiastically adopted by cryptocurrency miners across the world. And in the process of doing so, my daily profit from the Monero Mining Project dropped by over five thousand dollars per day.
But let's start at the beginning, when I started getting in to a loose collaboration with three people I've never met---one whose name I'm not even confident I really know---with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of a nebulous new cryptocurrency at stake.
It started with a cryptic note from someone I'd met online, with a link to a bitcointalk.org message board discussion for a new currency called "bitmonero". His note said only:
A few days ago, I posted about getting the Ph.D. in computer science. As part of that post, I mentioned that I'd publish & discuss some of the reviews my papers have received. These aren't so nasty that they're funny, but I decided to post the full submission/review/submission/review/final as a way to also help show what the publication and revision process looks like. I probably owe a better explanation of the delta between the papers, but - hey, the SIGCOMM, USENIX ATC, and SEA (algorithms) deadlines are all this week. :)
I've deliberately picked two papers with very different initial reviews. Both were eventually accepted, and neither was accepted upon first submission. One received a best paper award. Both have over 100 citations. I've picked these not because they're representative -- I've written papers with low citation counts also -- but because they illustrate the wide disparity in review constructiveness and tone that even decent, pub…