Wed 19 Sep 2007


A week or two ago I resigned from my PhD.

Nathan Froyd put some of my reasons down better than I could; his blog doesn't seem to be serving the original, but here's a cache.

More personally, though, my main reason is to bring objective reality in line with my internal world. I haven't found time to work on my research for some time now; it has been nothing more than a specter in my mind, an item on a to-do list. It is only right that I bring the paperwork of the real world in line with the truth.

Why I haven't made much progress since I moved to California is less obvious than it seems. It's not exactly that I'm too busy: I am convinced that a sufficiently motivated individual can finish a PhD course anywhere, even with a full-time job. It's that I am not such an individual, and so my PhD work was continuously pushed down my list of priorities by my paid work, my wife, and my friends, all of which I considered more important. I have no aspirations to become a lecturer or professional researcher, and I have always been more excited by hacking code than writing peer-reviewed papers.

In the best of situations a PhD student must make sacrifices for their research, be bordering on obsession. I made no such sacrifices, and being part-time and abroad only made the demands greater.

I took on a course of research because it was the best choice at the time; indeed, I would probably be writing Java in some sweatshop had I not. From that perspective, it served its purpose, and I value the time I spent. Now, though, finishing my PhD is merely academic*, and I am unwilling to make the changes to my life that it would require.

Thus ends an episode. Perhaps another day….

* The worst pun of my life.

Posted at 2007-09-19 11:14:11 by RichardLink to Quitting