May 13, 2010

Scope for Fundamental Work

In recent times I have come to believe that to the extent computer science and the fields which fall under its umbrella and which form its roots, have developed, it is not possible any more to make a fundamental contribution. Or to state it optimistically, it is nearly impossible to make fundamental discoveries in the field of computer science and the related tributary fields.
The first issue I think about when I have a new idea is, why wouldn't have someone already thought about this, is this really on a different line of thought, or am I just trying to re-invent the wheel. One of the most valuable suggestions I ever got during my under-graduate studies was that, "re-inventing the wheel is really bad". So the first thought is to prevent that, and in 99% of the instances I end up finding similar work already done.
By fundamental work above, I mean to point at things like coming up with a simple yet efficient data structure, some variant of a tree, or coming up with a simple sorting technique, or coming up with a new algorithm for tackling distributed program segmentation and execution (like openMP), almost everything in these aspects has already been touched. All this pseudo nonsense which I have written above originated when it struck me that a data structure which is structurally similar to a real word tree (3-D) would be viable for some operations. Coming to a conclusion about the possibilities and the use cases of such a structure is far from my sight right now, but nevertheless there is a feeling that someone would have thought about this too, may be not as a data structure, may be as some representation in graphics for generating real word structures. I will try to cover what I propose to design as a ml-tree (multi-level tree) in another post.