Why I'm Reading Research Papers

Why I'm Reading Research Papers

In my recent post on doing deliberate practice to become a better developer I mentioned that I was going to spend some time to read and understand some research papers. This may seem a like an odd thing to do in order to become better at my craft, but I figured a little experimentation couldn't hurt. At the worst, I'll have a few research papers read and understood. Perhaps I'll even meet one of the co-authors and have something to engage in discussion with. However, I believe I may get a bit more out of it than just that.

Understand Latest Research

Seeing what the latest research trends are, I feel, can be quite beneficial in a practical sense. For instance, there's a paper that suggests that simple testing can prevent most critical failures in software. From reading the paper and Adrian Colyer's post about it one can get a lot of insight about preventing most crashes in software. One having that insight, you can put it to good use in all of the software that you currently are developing.

See Cutting Edge Technologies

I'm sure most of y'all have seen this graph on emerging technologies.

CC BY 2.5, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11484459

Keeping up with new research articles allows me to be a part of the early adopters. Whereas now, I'm most likely split between the Early Majority and the Late Majority. Getting in early to new technologies will give multiple advantages, such as being among the first to submit pull requests if they have their code on GitHub, or generating the first set of blog posts on the subjet.

For example, Elm, a functional web language that outputs to JavaScript, was first introduced as a research paper. While I would say it is still in the late stages of the Early Adopter phase, if I was able to get on it earlier soon after this paper came out I could be considered one of the go-to people for this technology and even could help contribute to future releases of it.

Try to Understand More Math

A lot of computer science, and especially most of the research done in the field that I've seen, has a good bit of math behind it. While I took some math in my own studies of computer science, a lot of that was lost due to just not using it or keeping up with it.

While it's not necessary in day-to-day programming, it can be a bit helpful. Learning the math can help develop that extra bit of logic that will help in my daily programming, whether business logic or debugging.


With these benefits in mind, I plan on reading a paper a quarter this year and see how that goes. I'll definitely report back any benefits, or lack of any, that I believe I receive during that process.

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