This is part of The Blogging Gauntlet of May 2016, where I try to write 500 words every day. See the May 1st post for full details.

Alternate title: This Was a Bad Idea.

I’ve been working all day on turning my final project for CS 281B into a NIPS paper. The submission deadline is tomorrow, 9 AM. I have no idea how I convinced myself this was a good idea.

First off, the odds that I actually get accepted to NIPS is almost nil. My final project has the bare minimum of algorithm design to make it even justifiable to write a paper in the first place, and the experiments I ran all gave negative results. Furthermore, I worked on this project entirely by myself, with little to no input from any grad students/professors. That means I’ll have no feedback from people who have experience with the submission process, and that I’ll be editing the paper entirely by myself, which is a huge recipe for disaster. Everyone I’ve worked with is busy attending ICRA, and the time it would take for me to explain what I’m doing and for them to read my paper isn’t worth it. Besides, even if this was the most well-written paper in the world, the combination of not very novel ideas and negative results feels like a death sentence.

What makes this an even worse idea is that I didn’t even learn about the NIPS deadline until 2 days ago. Sure, let’s submit to NIPS! Why not! It’s not like I’ve spent the past few days playing Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in my pajamas all day, meaning I have to go through a super jarring context shift into the work all day mindset. It’s not like this is my last week staying at Berkeley, and I should probably be trying to meet up with friends before we all head away from one another. OH WAIT, EXCEPT BOTH THOSE THINGS ARE TRUE? YEAH, THEY ARE.


(Yes, if you couldn’t tell I’m a bit annoyed with myself. It was probably a bad idea to even write a blog post when I’m in such a mood, but here we are. On the raggedy edge.)

Look, I even did an estimation in my head, and decided it wasn’t worth sending my paper around for feedback, because it would take away time from people working on their papers, and the marginally improved chance for my paper isn’t worth diminishing the chances of people who actually have significant progress. Maybe this is circular logic I’m giving myself to not talk to people, but at this point I’m too tired for self improvement or internal consistency.

By the way, if you were expecting a post about existential risk and why it’s justifiable to act in situations where you almost always receive failure, I’m sorry the title baited you. See, that’s what I thought this post was going to be about, but my stream of consciousness decide to hijack it into a rant post and I don’t have the time to do that topic full justice. I’m writing this on an insanely short deadline because I need to both finish this post and finish my paper before midnight to give myself sleeping time for the CS graduation ceremony tomorrow morning.

Anyways this post is a huge pile of bullshit and I’m sorry you sat and read through it. I’m cheating myself for writing this just to make sure I don’t have to pay $20, but I set the rules! Only myself to blame if they let me get away with this!

If I had the time to write a decent post, here’s the ideas I would have tried to convey.

  • The odds of me getting accepted are small, but I was always planning to refine my final project for my research page currently under construction. The NIPS deadline just gave me a good deadline to actually work on it and spring me out of my hedonistic haze.
  • When the paper is done, I’ll get to say I submitted a paper to a top tier machine learning conference, which is actually a decently big deal. Of course anybody can do this, so it’s secretly not a big deal.
  • I’m not sure how I feel about existential risk, but in this case the journey of finding the best way to explain my ideas to a curious but unfamiliar audience and the experience I get doing so is the big thing I’m getting out of it.

I didn’t have the time to find a good way to naturally bring all this up, so instead you get a bullet point text dump. Sorry!

Okay this is actually closer to 750 words, not 500. I’m outta here, I’ve got a paper to write.