Yesterday was Tuesday, my day to run to campus and try to get something educational done. Yesterday I listed four topics I wanted or needed to learn more about and ran to the science library to pick up a good book on each. These topics were:

1.) Image processing and recognition (For fun.)
2.) Group Theory (Central to much of what's interesting in physics nowadays, so I wanted to learn more about it.)
3.) Solitons (Central to the stuff my professor has had me work on.)
4.) Navier-Stokes Equation (The focus of one of the millenium prize problems at the Clay Mathematics Institute, and an important equation for fluid dynamics. I was thinking I might do some research of a mathematical nature with it.)

When I got back to my office with my book selection, I found that the grad student I shared the office with was there with her new-born and her mother. I hadn't seen her since before she had the baby, so I told her that her baby was cute, which it was. She told me that my professor was taking a position in Alabama. (The conversation was more involved than that, but the details aren't at all interesting, even to me. I know, because my brain decided to not record them.)

Since I'm not moving to Alabama, that leaves me with some decisions to make. Since my research isn't going anywhere and it bores me almost to tears, I was considering just quiting the program, but that, to a large extent can be explained my the difficulty I have getting any direction from my professor. Quitting the program is still an option, but not my only option. Back when Prof. Zank became my adviser, I went with him because he was doing computational physics and he had the money to support me. Since Boeing is paying for my schooling now, money is no longer an object. I could look at any professor and the money criterion would be replaced with two new criteria, interesting research, and direction.

We have folks who are working on quantum computing, DNA-based computing, virus self-organization, and a variety of other interesting topics. The professors who were at the top of my list for interesting, unfortunately, were not doing very well as far as money goes. Now that money is no object, they're once again possibilities.

I also considered switching to CS, but somehow I don't much like the idea, especially when I consider that I might have to start with a number of foundational classes. Still, I'll probably look into it because, if the barrier isn't too high, I'd be very interested in doing something in the field of AI, or data mining; particularly applied to security.

Transferring to UCLA might also be a possibility, though I would only do it for convenience, and I have my doubts that the convenience afforded by UCLA outstrips the convenience of regular contact with family. Still, once the new baby comes, I might change my tune, and if I end up having to take a significant number of new classes, I would certainly need to think seriously about the feasibility of making frequent trips.

So, after taking this in I took a look at my pile of books. I knew when I grabbed them that I'd have to be choosy about what I left in my office and what I took with me. It seemed like it might be a tough call at the time. Now it was easy. Image Processing and Group Theory come. Navier-Stokes and Solitons stay. I'll have some fun this week. Next Tuesday I'll walk around campus and try to sort out the pros and cons of my various options. In a while, hopefully, my fun and interesting books will match my research books.