I used to maintain a blog while I was in high school, like many others who have participated in Olympiad in Informatics did. I had been used to posting solutions to competition problems I encountered, interesting algorithms I learnt, and slices of my life experience. Yet, also like most of them, I blogged less and less frequently as I entered college, and before too long, I stopped blogging completely.
The precise reason that a blogger stops posting probably varies from person to person. Retrospectively thinking, the reason for my case is not that I am no longer learning new stuffs in college thus having nothing to post. Instead, I was learning a lot. However, I was hardly able to get much new insights from the stuffs I learnt. If Olympiad in Informatics is about creatively making use of the knowledge one have learnt on new problems, then I guess, during my undergraduate years, I have learnt a lot more knowledge, but I did not learn how to creatively apply those knowledge to produce something new – and by parroting theorems, theories and long proofs verbatim, one clearly cannot make an interesting blog post. Even worse, knowledge fades away in time. I don’t think I still remember anything taught in the hardcore math and TCS classes I took at MIT.
This is a hard lesson learnt in the hard way. I hope that by writing this down into a blog post, and by keep posting about what I have learnt (which makes sure that I am getting some insights from it), I can often get reminded to not get into the same pitfalls again.
There are other reasons as well. I saw by chance this amusing but thought-provoking post by Manuel Blum, and his argument on the importance of writing with this interesting “proof”:
You are all computer scientists.
You know what FINITE AUTOMATA can do.
You know what TURING MACHINES can do.
For example, Finite Automata can add but not multiply.
Turing Machines can compute any computable function.
Turing machines are incredibly more powerful than Finite Automata.
Yet the only difference between a FA and a TM is that
the TM, unlike the FA, has paper and pencil.
Think about it.
It tells you something about the power of writing.
Without writing, you are reduced to a finite automaton.
With writing you have the extraordinary power of a Turing machine.
as well as another blog post by Matt Might on the importance of practicing writing for graduate students. Having been struggling with writing out academia-paper-grade paragraphs recently, hopefully I can improve my writing skills a little bit by posting >_<.