Wilhelm Burger
How to be a Terrible
Thesis Advisor

Mostly for (but definitely not restricted to) graduate work in AI:

  • Assign students thesis topics based on the section headings in your grant proposal, or on the boxes of the flowchart for your master plan.
  • When someone brings up a research paper, tell anecdotes about the author, his advisor, and his colleagues. This will impress students that who you know is more important than what you do.
  • When laying out your laboratory, give first priority to minimizing the cost of cable, last priority to good workplaces for students, and no priority to fostering interaction among students.
  • Read your students' papers at most once.
  • When honest differences of opinion arise, paper them over with words. For example, say "well, we could talk about this forever, but I think we're all working towards the same basic idea, let's call it a `neologistic/noetic knowledge representation'. Now let's move on."
  • Regarding other schools of thought, make sure students know just enough to be able to point out the "fatal flaws" in each, and so can be good foot soldiers in the crusade for your own approach. A useful phrase is "why do you want to waste your time reading that?"
  • Never visit the laboratory; learn about students' work only from what they tell you.
  • Define your research aims with catch phrases ("dynamic X", "emergent Y", "the Z problem", etc.).
  • Have students handle computer system administration, and let them think it counts as research.
  • Mumble.

Source: unknown (tell me if you know!)