If you’re new to dlab, first of all: welcome! This page will help you get started by providing useful information on how to get set up and ready to roll. If you’re new not only to dlab, but to EPFL as a whole, see the bottom of this page for some additional useful pointers.
As a very first step, carefully read this introduction to our dlab resources: computing, office space, etc. It will tell you everything that’s necessary to get cracking and crunching with that exciting data!
Our internal group mailing list is firstname.lastname@example.org. Please request access immediately by emailing Bob. The list is our primary group-wide communication channel (in addition, there’s Slack; see below), so don’t hesitate to send email to the list frequently, even for small things. Membership in the group associated with the mailing list is also necessary to use the lab’s computing resources.
Join the dlab team on Slack. We use Slack for casual communication that we don’t require to be archived. For conversations that you want to be able to go back to at some later point, please use email instead.
We also use Slack for brief daily updates: every day, each dlab member (PhD students, Master’s students, postdocs, interns, prof) posts a short message in the channel
#dweets (for “dlab tweets”), summarizing in a sentence or two what they’ve been up to that day. The purpose of these updates is to increase information flow inside the lab and your awareness of your own achievements (not surveillance!).
Here is some good advice on how to make meetings with your advisor as effective and successful as possible. Please read it.
Documenting your research
It is important that you keep thorough notes of your research. This will make it easier to remember the things you’ve done, the things you still need to do, important references you’ve come across, etc. It will also let you share your thoughts with the rest of the group, and it will make you a better, more disciplined researcher. There are many great ways of keeping notes: Google Docs, Evernote, Word, Pages, Jupyter or iPython notebooks, etc. Choose whichever tools fit best into your workflow, but make sure there’s an easy way of sharing your notes when you need to.
You should also keep notes during meetings, either on your laptop or in a plain old paper notebook.
You can find some tips and tools for writing papers in LaTeX here.
Blog posts are a great way of publicizing your research results beyond good old (and slooow…) papers. They are also a channel for making what you’re doing accessible to a general public, rather than just to other academics. Everyone in the lab should therefore contribute one post per semester to our dlab blog, a.k.a. the dlog.
The dlab canon
Here is a list of books that every dlab member should read sooner or later.
The canon is not exclusive; in other words, you should read plenty of other books, too! Rather, it is an attempt to cover some concepts that, although they are central to our work, are unfortunately not taught as extensively in courses as some of the other central concepts we rely on (machine learning, algorithms, natural language processing, etc.).
Reading these books, in addition to paying attention in your classes on machine learning and related areas, will ensure that everyone in the lab speaks the same language. Additionally, all books listed here are a lot of fun to read; you’ll learn a lot as well as be entertained.
- Paul Rosenbaum: Observation and Experiment: An Introduction to Causal Inference, Harvard University Press, 2017.
- Judea Pearl: The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect, Basic Books, 2018.
- Matthew J. Salganik: Bit by Bit: Social Research in the Digital Age, Princeton University Press, 2017. [free online edition]
New to EPFL?
The following pointers might help you get started if you’ve just arrived at EPFL.
On campus, the best wireless network to use is the one called epfl. You can use it with your GASPAR username and password.
To access EPFL resources, such as the compute server, from outside of the EPFL network, you need to set up VPN.
During your first days at EPFL, you’ll get your CAMIPRO card, which will serve as an ID, keycard, and payment method, among other things.
EPFL Campus app
Consider installing the EPFL Campus app on your smartphone. It has useful information such as a map, people directory, restaurant menus, etc.