EppsNet Archive: Bell Labs

The Important Problems of Your Field

Over on the other side of the dining hall was a chemistry table. I had worked with one of the fellows, Dave McCall . . . I went over and said, “Do you mind if I join you?” They can’t say no, so I started eating with them for a while. And I started asking, “What are the important problems of your field?” And after a week or so, “What important problems are you working on?” And after some more time I came in one day and said, “If what you are doing is not important, and if you don’t think it is going to lead to something important, why are you at Bell Labs working on it?” I wasn’t welcomed after that; I had to find somebody else to eat with! That was in the spring. In the fall, Dave McCall stopped me in the hall and said, “Hamming,… Read more →