Tips on Essay Writing

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9/16/2015 Tips for Writing Technical Papers Tips for Writing Technical Papers Jennifer Widom, January 2006 Here are the notes from a presentation I gave at the Stanford InfoLab Friday lunch, 1/27/06, with a few (not many) revisions when I reprised the talk on 12/4/09, and no revisions for the 10/19/12 revival. The presentation covered: Paper Title The Abstract The Introduction Related Work The Body Performance Experiments The Conclusions Future Work The Acknowledgements Citations Appendices Grammar and Small‐Scale Presentation Issues Mechanics Versions and Distribution Running Example As a running (fictitious!) example, suppose you've designed and run experiments with a new algorithm for external multipass merge‐sort. Your algorithm reduces the complexity from O(n log n) to O(n), under the premise that it's acceptable to have some bounded "unsortedness" in the result. You plan to write up the results for submission to a major conference. Note: This example was used throughout the live presentation but I haven't followed through much in these notes. Thus, the notes include several exercises for the reader. Paper Title Titles can be long and descriptive: Linear‐Time External Multipass Sorting with Approximation Guarantees or short and sweet: Approximate External Sort Here's a middle‐of‐the‐road length, plus a cute name that sticks in people's minds: Floosh: A Linear‐Time Algorithm for Approximate External Sort http://cs.stanford.edu/people/widom/paper­writing.html 1/6 9/16/2015 Tips for Writing Technical Papers The Abstract State the problem, your approach and solution, and the main contributions of the paper. Include little if any background and motivation. Be factual but comprehensive. The material in the abstract should not be repeated later word for word in the paper. (Exercise: Write an abstract for the

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