Barbara Liskov on helping the mind go the distance

During the question-and-answer session that followed the talk, Liskov was asked the secret of her success. Part of her answer — which must have chagrined some members of the audience — was that “I don’t work that many hours a day.” “I always went home at night, and didn’t work in the evening,” she said. “I always found that downtime to be really useful.” She also, however, emphasized the importance of pursuing research that’s interesting — rather than, say, the research that will generate the most publications. That way, she said, “at the end, if you fail, at least you did something interesting, rather than doing something boring and also failing.” After the laughter died down, she added, “Or doing something boring and then forgetting how to do something interesting.”

Barbara Liskov, winner of the Turing Award, instrumental in laying the foundations for today’s programming languages

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