Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2014-09-16: A long and tortuous trail to a PhD

(or how I learned to embrace the new)


I am reaching the end of this part of my professional, academic, and personal life.  It is time to reflect and consider how I got here.

The trail ahead.
When I started, I thought that I knew the path, the direction, and the work that it would take.  I was wrong.  The path was rugged, steep, and covered with roots and stones that lay in wait to trip the unwary.  The direction was not straight forward.  At times I wasn't sure how to set my compass, and which way to steer.  In the end, there was more work than I thought in the beginning.  But the end is nigh.  The path has been long.  At times the was direction confusing.  The work seemed never ending.  This is a story of how I got to the end, using a little help from "a friend" at the end of this post.

Bringing the initially disparate disciplines of graph theory, digital preservation, and emergent behavior together to solve a particular class of problem, is/was non-trivial.  Sometimes you have to believe in a solution before you can see it.

Graph theory is: the study of graphs, the mathematical structures used to model pairwise relations between objects.  In my world, I focused on the application of graph theory as it applied to the creation of graphs that had the small-world properties of a high clustering coefficient and a low average path length.

Digital preservation is: a series of managed activities necessary to ensure continued access to digital materials for as long as they are needed.  In my world, I focused on preserving the "essence" of a web object (WO), not the entire object.  WOs can include links to resources and capabilities that are protected and not visible on the "surface web."  While this web "dark matter" could contain unknown wealth and information,  I was interested in the essence of the WO and preserving that for the long term.

Emergent behavior is: unanticipated behavior shown by a system.  In my world, I took Craig Reynolds' axiom of imbuing objects with a small set of rules, turning them loose, and seeing what happens.  My rules guided the WOs through their explorations of the Unsupervised Small-World (USW) graph, how they made decisions about which other WOs to connect to, and when and where to make preservation copies.

Graph theory, digital preservation, and emergent behavior are brought together in the USW process; the heart of my dissertation.

At the end of a very long climb, there is:

A video of the USW process in action video:



My PhD Defense PowerPoint presentation on SlideShare.






 A video of my dissertation defense can be found here.

 My dissertation in two different sized files.
A small (19 MB) version of my dissertation.

A much larger (619 MB) version of my dissertation can be found here.

A simple chronology from the Start in 2007 through the PhD in 2014 (with a little help from my friend).

2007: I started down this trail
The "story" of my dissertation. (My friend.)

2007 - 2013: The Unsupervised Small-World (USW) simulator (on GitHub) directly supported almost all phases of my work.  It went through many iterations from its first inception until its final form.  What started as a simple was to create simple graphs in python, through a couple of other scripting languages, stabilized as an message driven 5K line long C++ program.  The program served as a way to generate USW graph to test different theories and ideas.  The simulator generated data, while offline R scripts did the heavy lift analysis.  One my favorite graphs was a by-product of the simulator (and it didn't have anything to do with USW).

2008: Emergent behavior: a poster entitled "Self-Arranging Preservation Networks."

2009: Emergent behavior and graph theory: a short paper entitled "Unsupervised Creation of Small World Networks for the Preservation of Digital Objects."

2009: Graph theory: Doctoral consortium

2010: Digital preservation: a long paper entitled: "Analysis of Graphs for Digital Preservation Suitability."

2011: Graph theory: arXiv on entitled: "Connectivity Damage to a Graph by the Removal of an Edge or Vertex."

2011: Graph theory: a WS-DL blog article: "Grasshopper, prepare yourself. It is time to speak of graphs and digital libraries and other things."

2012: Digital preservation: a long paper entitled: "When Should I Make Preservation Copies of Myself?"

2013: Digital preservation: a WS-DL blog article: "Preserve Me! (... if you can, using Unsupervised Small-World graphs.)"

2013: The USW robot, my own Marvin, (on GitHub) grew from the lessons learned from the simulator.  Marvin worked with Sawood Alam's HTTP Mailbox application to actually create USW graphs based on data in the USW instrumented Web Pages.

2013 - 2014: Emergent behavior: working with Sawood Alam and his HTTP Mailbox application.  The Mailbox was the communication mechanism used by USW Web Objects.

2014: Digital preservation: an updated long paper entitled: "When Should I Make Preservation Copies of Myself?"

2014: My PhD defense (link to set of slides).

2014: LaTeX: a WS-DL blog article: LaTeX References, and how to control them.

2014: LaTeX: a WS-DL blog article: An ode to the "Margin Police," or how I learned to love LaTeX margins.

2014: Dissertation submitted and accepted by the Office of the Registrar.

In many movies, there is one line that stands out.  One line that resonates.  One line that sums up many things.  The one that comes to my mind was uttered by Sean Connery as William Forrester in the movie "Finding Forrester" when he pointed to the faded photograph on the wall and said: "I'm that one."

The trail, and the road was long and trying, with many places where things could have gone awry. But in the end, like Kwai Chang Caine and his brazier, the way out of the temple was shown and the last trial was completed.

Chuck

Published works (ready for copying and pasting):
  • Sawood Alam, Charles L. Cartledge, and Michael L. Nelson. HTTP Mailbox - Asynchronous RESTful Communication. Technical report, arXiv:1305.1992, Old Dominion University, Computer Science Department, Norfolk, VA, 2013.
  • Sawood Alam, Charles L. Cartledge, and Michael L. Nelson. Support for Various HTTP Methods on the Web. Technical report, arXiv:1405.2330, Old Dominion University, Computer Science Department, Norfolk, VA, 2014.
  • Charles Cartledge. Preserve Me! (... if you can, using Unsupervised Small-World graphs.). http://ws-dl.blogspot.com/2013/10/2013-10-23-preserveme-if-you-can-using.html/, 2013.
  • Charles L. Cartledge and Michael L. Nelson. Self-Arranging Preservation Networks. In Proc. of the 8th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conf. on Digital Libraries, pages 445 – 445, 2008.
  • Charles L. Cartledge and Michael L. Nelson. Unsupervised Creation of Small World Networks for the Preservation of Digital Objects. In Proc. of the 9th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conf. on Digital Libraries, pages 349 – 352, 2009.
  • Charles L. Cartledge and Michael L. Nelson. Analysis of Graphs for Digital Preservation Suitability. In Proc. of the 21st ACM conference on Hypertext and hypermedia, pages 109 – 118. ACM, 2010.
  • Charles L. Cartledge and Michael L. Nelson. Connectivity Damage to a Graph by the Removal of an Edge or Vertex. Technical report, arXiv:1103.3075, Old Dominion University, Computer Science Department, Norfolk, VA, 2011.
  • Charles L. Cartledge and Michael L. Nelson. When Should I Make Preservation Copies of Myself? Tech. Report arXiv:1202.4185, 2012.
  • Charles L. Cartledge and Michael L. Nelson. When Should I Make Preservation Copies of Myself? In Proc. of the 14th ACM/IEEE-CS Joint Conf. on Digital Libraries, page TBD, 2014.

Published works (ready for BibTex):

No comments:

Post a Comment