How to read papers of professors?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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How to read papers of professors?

Postby Saikat » Fri Nov 02, 2018 2:09 pm

This is a question that has been in my mind for a month now. I am a final year M.Sc student in mathematics and applying for graduate school this year. But for applying to graduate schools, let's say in Europe, it is recommended that you should study the papers of Professors to whom you are applying. My question is how to go about reading the papers? I am interested in doing research in algebraic geometry and I have only taken a course in basic undergraduate algebraic geometry and some basic homological algebra. I should have done my M.Sc thesis in algebraic geometry but in my university, nobody is working on this topic. Also, I didn't know I am interested in algebraic geometry until the last year otherwise I would have done some internships on this topic. With this background, there is no way I could understand the papers of a Professor who is working on the subject for years. This is certainly not a problem in the US as you don't have to apply to a Professor, you apply to the graduate program, but in Europe, I think in most of the cases, you have to directly apply to a Professor. So, what to do in this case?

Thanks in advance!
Sorry for my bad English.

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Re: How to read papers of professors?

Postby lurenjia12138 » Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:33 pm

Just go through the abstract and know the basic idea of the paper, you don't have to know every detail. If you wanna raise some questions, just focus on the assumptions setting in the paper which I think is the easiest part.

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Re: How to read papers of professors?

Postby Degutis » Mon Nov 19, 2018 8:23 am

Hello @Saikat,

You shouldn't worry about the details. You don't need to learn the papers by heart, the only thing you do need to know is the main idea of the professor's research and the key purpose of it.
Start with the basics, try to find the definitions which will help you understand the subject and the methods professor used in the papers.
I had a similar situation when I had to work on the research paper on Linguistics (and believe me or not, I know nothing about Linguistics at all), so I had first of all to learn what my Professor was up to in her papers (as it turned out it was Mystery and suspense bullying in the Gothic Tradition). Consequently, my paper was dedicated to the Gothic Tradition texts. So I started from defining what Gothic is and how it is connected with Mystery. Pretty easy as for my Mathematician's mind (I just created a scheme to better understand the terms).

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Re: How to read papers of professors?

Postby Applad » Wed Nov 21, 2018 2:10 pm

Read the conclusions of his/her works. There concentrated the main thought, all the methods and so on. That way you'll understand something and will have some knowledge about what this professor is studying.

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