Our course literature for Mobile Computing consists of a lot of academic papers. A superb way integrating academic work into classes compared to often long and partially irrelevant books. Some papers are well written and easy to understand. Usually because the authors have paid careful attention to the structure of the paper. Sometimes though, actually more often than not, I find that researchers are really trying to “take over the world” with their proposed solutions. They offer glory and a resort to all your problems.
This is obviously not true. Neither do I think the researchers think that it is the case. But it sounds like that. So why spice papers up with sentences like the following?
The Odyssey architecture supports application-aware adaptation while paying careful attention to a variety of practical considerations. Our prototype confirms the feasibility of realizing this architecture, and its ability to support a wide range of applications.
A paper is, inevitably, an argumentation. It is a space to convince a reader that proposed solution maps to a problem defined in the introduction. My problem, I think, is that researchers rarely present any realistic and convincing arguments to the problem in the first place. Their solution might be great. It may even be innovative! But if it is not a problem conceived by users, and where a proposed solution does not provide added value to the user, it is flawed in the first place.
Odyssey is the first system to simultaneously address the problems of adaptation for mobility, application diversity, and application concurrency. It is the first effort to propose and implement an architecture for application-aware adaptation that pays careful attention to the needs of mobile computing.
The statement above from the related works section of the same paper has some legitimacy. They do build on previous research and manage to show that clearly. I can even see the progression from their problem statement that this is might “true”. Nevertheless, I interpret it as a marketing trick.
Perhaps am I looking in the wrong place, but I’d like to see better motivations to the research conducted. And I shouldn’t have to resolve to reading a ton of surveys before reading a new paper. Although this is only a hypothesis so far, I sense that papers stemming from industry are better at providing realistic and believable scenarios and motivations. Ultimately, conclusions in those papers also hold stronger.
How do we know we, and researchers, are spending time on “the right thing”?
[Update: note so self - be more structured next time you write a post]