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Emmanuel Rachelson


Mis à jour le

A few extra / funny / important things to know.
Most of them are the result of my adaptation to the unstructured world of academia and my personal experience.

e-mail solving

I receive more than a hundred e-mails each day (spam and mailing-lists excluded) and try to devote only around 1h to e-mail solving(*).
If you did not receive an answer from me (and expected one) :
- Resend your e-mail, it probably went away with the flow without me noticing.
- Reconsider.
Can it wait ? Is it so urgent that you can’t come see me or get an answer by phone ?
Can you solve your problem without me ? I’m honored that you thought I could help, sometimes I just don’t have the answer, or it is not within my prerogatives or duties, or I just don’t have the resources to help.
- Come to my office.
If your need is really urgent and can only be solved by me I’ll do my best to help you. Even if I can’t help you’ll get an answer.

(*) e-mail solving : series of actions engaged to solve a problem submitted to me by e-mail, often ending with replying to said e-mail and triggering the reception of a new request.

Happy together (for students)

You want to work with me ? Great ! Here’s what you should expect.

  • be prepared to be :
    - autonomous : my schedule is often busy and I try to focus on where I’m most useful so you should sort out the rest by yourself as much as possible.
    - creative : suggest your own solutions to the problem we work on, imagine new ways of solving it, generalize from the current problem to a more formal statement.
    - problem-solving oriented : the goal is to solve a problem, not just think about a good way of doing it.
  • in return you get :
    - ideas, leads, constructive criticism from me
    - contacts with scientific experts and great people
    - lots of fun
  • get started in my topics of interest :
    - learn about Reinforcement Learning, AI planning, ML and related topics.
    Usual references : "RL an introduction" by Sutton and Barto, "Algorithms for RL" by Szepesvari, the bandits and MCTS survey by Munos, the Policy Search survey by Deisenroth et al., etc.
    - read about my current projects and interests (on SuReLI’s webpage for example)
  • Once all this is clear :
    Come in, let’s discuss your ideas and your interests. If I’m not the right person for you I’ll redirect you to more adequate people.
  • Don’t look for culprits, look for solutions.
  • When you ask a yes/no question, be prepared for both answers (that applies to me too).
  • I like people. Some of my best friends are people (quote borrowed from M. Littman).
  • When a measure becomes a target it ceases to be a good measure (Goodhart’s law).
  • There are very few problems that can’t be solved by an extended leave.
  • The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it (Brandolini’s law)
  • Due tu a shortage of robots, some of our staff are human and therefore react unpredictably when abused or under pressure.
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