Blog of Joos Buijs

About personal things, process mining and the rest in life.

Posts Tagged ‘PhD

A reply on “Some thoughts on Generalization”

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Last week, Dirk Fahland posted an interesting article on his blog about the generalization quality dimension in process mining (/process discovery). Since this is one of the topics I touched during my PhD research I just have to reply because I have a slightly different view, and I have the feeling that two concepts are mixed in the discussion. Unfortunately, this could not be done in a comment to the original post…

Dirk discusses the problem of the confidence one can have in a discovered process model, given an event log. A very related question is “have we seen enough traces”? These are all valid questions that we currently can not confidently answer (i.e. it is ongoing research).

Before I can explain why my view slightly differs, let me first explain our view on the quality dimensions in process discovery.

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Written by Joos Buijs

January 15, 2014 at 17:49

The Career Pyramid: Academia v.s. Industry

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Yesterday during a diner with some PhDs from other universities (and one consultant from industry), we came to the topic of career opportunities. One of the first things mentioned was that most PhD students prefer a career in industry over an academic career. To which I responded that it was an effect of the perception of PhD students that industry provides better career perspectives than academia. I believe that indeed some PhD students actually want to go to industry, but some feel ‘forced’ to do so.

Most people agreed, and of course complained that obtaining a post-doc position was hard, and then finding a fixed position was even more difficult…

In our group we have 1 full professor, 2 part-time professors (they work in a company too), 3 assistant professors, 1 scientific programmer, 2 postdocs and about 10 PhD students. I have to make the side-note that until a couple of months ago we had 5 more postdocs, and that currently we have 5 open PhD positions.

This may seem as a rather steep ‘promotion pyramid’: for every 5 phds there is 1 postdoc position, for every postdoc there is a fixed position (as assistant professor) and for every 3 assistant professors there is 1 full professor. 
However, the first thing I should note here is the high variability in the number of PhDs and PostDocs in our group! As mentioned, a couple of months ago we had quite a few more postdocs, and we are currently expecting quite a few new PhD students. This all makes the perceived odds worse. Also note that the three assistant professor functions have been ‘recently’ filled, unless they are promoted or leave, they will keep their positions for quite a few more years to come. Which actually makes the odds worse, in our group.

After quickly sketching the situation in our group, I asked the consultant of the ‘promotion pyramid’ in the consultancy company he works in. He mentioned that there were 3 directors, some 10 to 20 managers and some 200 consultants. I believe this could be correct in general, most ‘healthy’ commercial companies try to have as much people bringing in money, and as few as possible managers managing these people. Looking at the odds there are 10 consultants to a manager and 7 managers to a director.

My argument: the academic ‘promotion pyramid’ might appear hard, but don’t underestimate the ratios in industry.

A brief counter-argument was provided: when PhD students move to industry, they have an advantage over the others with a masters degree (or less).

This one is easily bunked by mentioning that first of all a PhD starts his industry career with no relevant work experience compared to ‘the others’ (e.g. with a 4 year disadvantage).
Secondary: education is in my opinion no proper predictor for career success! It depends on so much more like personality, timing (beeing there when an opportunity arrises) and focussing your skills on those that are important for a promotion.

That killed that discussion nice and swiftly, and we moved on to something else.

Even though I believe the observations are correct (although they are not scientifically supported and my sample set has a total size of 2), I’m going to ignore it. When I’m done with my PhD (which will be June 2014!!! jay!) I’m going to industry. But more because I like the challenge, and it just seems like more fun. Not necessarily for the better career opportunities.

I’m wondering what the career pyramid looks like in your group (academic or company). Please let me know in the comments!!!

TL;DR: career opportunities in academia might seem bad, but industry might not be much better, and your PhD title might not help. (But I’m going to ignore this observation and go to industry anyway :D)  

PS: I strongly believe that we, with our level of education and knowledge, have the privileged situation of choosing jobs that are fun. That’s the main reason why I chose to do a PhD instead of going to industry after my master. 

Written by Joos Buijs

November 27, 2013 at 12:04

Some LaTeX errors and their solutions (part I)

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Hi all,

So, I have started to set up my PhD thesis LaTeX files. This means starting from scratch with clean and empty files. And of course, each chapter has its own tex file and the style and metadata (title, author, etc.) definitions will also be placed in their own files.

To make things interesting I upgraded WinEdt to version 7 (Version 8 is out but my university does not have a license yet). I also upgraded >all< LaTeX packages to their latest version (if supervisors can not compile your papers, there is something wrong, see problem below).

Of course, during all these things I encountered issues/challenges. Below I would like to briefly summarize them. I hope that someone, possibly future me, find them useful. (oh, how I look forward to the day that Google brings me to my own solution blog post)

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Written by Joos Buijs

June 25, 2013 at 17:15

Posted in PhD

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I’m Alive and Travelling

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Dear readers,

The time has come. The time to travel. For business. For real.

It is something each academic should do: visit other groups in academia and learn how academia works around the world.

I have been given the chance to visit the QUT BPM group in Brisbane, Australia. I’m leaving next week Tuesday and will be staying there for a good 6 weeks. Although this will not give me a lot of time to do and see all the really fun Australian things (Great Barrier Reef, Sydney’s Opera House, and far more nature than I’ve ever seen) I still think it is plenty long to absorb some pieces of Australia. And, of course, work!

Furthermore, I’m staying with three different families during my stay. I think that this will be a unique experience to learn about the Australian culture. I expect it to be different than here in the Netherlands, although Australia still has kind of a Western culture.

So, in the next few weeks I will be posting regular updates. Mainly aimed at family and friends but of course colleagues and complete strangers are more than welcome to follow me. And, hopefully, including beautiful pictures to make you all wish you were there.

For some readers my posts might be not very interesting (I will be posting pictures of airports and planes) but please understand that I have never travelled further than 1300km from home (Croatia), never been away for much more than 2 weeks and I’m travelling alone. I’m not a world traveller (yet) but hope to visit America and possibly China/Indonesia/… with my girlfriend (/wife) sometime in our lives.

For now, I’m preparing for my flight: 24 hours of travelling, mostly spend in air planes, something I have never experienced… And then the timezone difference, in the wrong direction. That will be a hell of jet lag I’m afraid…

As soon as I have more news to share, you’ll find it here! (also links will be posted on Twitter and Facebook)

TTFN

NOTE: for those concerned, I’m still in the Netherlands until next week Tuesday (June 6) and I will still be at work tomorrow. Thanks for caring Ine 😉

Written by Joos Buijs

May 31, 2012 at 16:54

Posted in PhD

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Funny Process Model: Friendship Algorithm

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I recently started watching ‘The Big Bang Theory’. Its like a ‘PhdComics‘ in tv series shape. In Season 2, episode 13 there is a very funny scene about the ‘friendship algorithm’.

The flowchart is:

Friendship algorithm flowchart (original) from http://watch-bigbangtheory.com/1330-friendship-algorithm/

Or, better readible:

Friendship Algorithm (readible version)

Please note that in the original version there was a loop where Sheldon got stuck in. Luckily Howard spotted this on time and improved it.

TTFN!

Joos

Written by Joos Buijs

October 29, 2010 at 21:56

Aaah, the holiday season…

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… a perfect time to get some work done!

Less people to interrupt you, plenty of ‘sun energy’ and of course:

I travel by train but then still: more room in the train and less slow people in front of you when you walk to the campus. Well, okay, only less slow people, the trains are shorter so still rather crowded…

And, to be honest, I do look forward to my holiday in 2 1 week! Ooh, the nice English country side….

Well, I’ll settle for a nice and quiet (*ahum*) weekend with/at my girlfriend’s family.

Bye!

Joos

Written by Joos Buijs

July 30, 2010 at 17:00

Posted in Personal

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The next level: pursuing a PhD

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I’m back!

After my final presentation and master thesis round-up I took a one-month holiday. Last Monday the holiday ended and I started my job: PhD candidate.

Not much changed actually: I sit in the same office at the same desk, I still travel more than 2,5 hours (2 times 1:15) each day to go to work and home again, I still like my colleagues and I still work on process mining (and even on XESMa a little bit).
There are some differences of course: I’m not a student any more but a ‘real’ employee with all kinds of things attached (from a mail box to all kinds of administrative things). Another thing I already notice is that much more different things come ‘my way’. During a master project you’re mainly working on that. As a PhD candidate you have your assigned project (see below) but you’re also supposed to help in education (but not too much, although I think I’ll like it), set up your own education plan (which courses do you need/want to follow) and many more fun things that come your way. Another benefit is that you belong ‘more’ to the group. Instead of only 6 months you’re now in this group for 4 years (at the very least). This means that other people invest (even) more time and have (even) more interest in you and vice versa.
Although I never though that I would pursue a PhD it does feel good, this first week at least.

The project: CoSeLoG

Update (20-5-2010): There is now an official CoSeLoG website!

So, the project, the main reason for me to start this PhD. If you don’t like the project you’re on, you won’t survive the 4 years.

The goal of the project, in brief, is to implement configurable process models in a SaaS (Software as a Service) environment to support municipalities in executing their processes.

The idea is that processes within municipalities are much alike. Registering an unborn child is similar in most municipalities. By applying process mining, configurable process models should be discovered. These models should describe the process executed in each of the municipalities. The next step is to implement these models in a SaaS system and provide formal semantics for execution. Because the models are configurable, each municipality will execute their own variant of the process. Furthermore, during execution the correct data should be recorded to enable the application of process mining on the SaaS system. This will enable municipalities to compare themselves with others and improve their process execution.
More information about this project can be found at the links at the end of this post.

One of the main advantages of this project is that it is very practical. 2 IT companies cooperate: D!MPACT, a Dutch IT cooperative for and by 20 municipalities and Pallas Athena, the well known creators of BPM|One used by +/-250 of the 440 Dutch municipalities.
Furthermore, 10 municipalities support the project, providing case data to use. These municipalities are Bergeijk, Bladel, Coevorden, Eersel, Emmen, Gemert-Bakel, Hellendoorn, Noordoostpolder, Reusel de Mierden and Zwolle. Half of these municipalities are located around Eindhoven. The other half however are located in the north of the Netherlands so I’m prepared for some long train rides. 🙂 Not all municipalities are a member of D!MPACT.
And, also very important, another PhD candidate will join the project in a few weeks. Together we try to realize the goals mentioned before. The other candidate will focus more on the practical implementation of the process models in the SaaS environment. My goal is to discover the process models using process mining, generate a configurable process model from these models (using a process mining algorithm to be developed) and enable the application of process mining in the resulting SaaS environment.

Overall I’m very pleased with the content of the project. Although configurable process models are new for me they are very interesting. Furthermore, the main goal of the project will be applicable to many companies too. Think for instance about the salary payment process of an international company, this could be captured in a configurable process model… So the future after my PhD also looks promising.

That’s it for now. Expect some topics about configurable process model in the future, although I’m planning to continue development on XESMa.

TTFN

Links:

English

Update (20-5-2010): There is now an official CoSeLoG website!

(Google Cache) FILLED vacancy on TU/e website

Dutch

Official announcement at NWO.nl

Official announcement at Jacquard.nl

News announcement at TU/e website

News announcement at D!MPACT website

Computable! article

Written by Joos Buijs

May 7, 2010 at 15:34

Posted in PhD

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