Another big sigh of relief: on Thursday I gave my qualifying exam talk–and passed. The qual at Berkeley is a bit different from most places; it’s basically a proposal of your thesis topic in the form of a two-hour talk given to a committee of four professors, who pepper you with questions throughout, ostensibly to test your knowledge of the area and to confirm that your thesis topic is “good enough.” I’ve spent most of the last two weeks making the slides and otherwise preparing for the talk. Although in theory you can fail your qual (and be kicked out of the Ph.D. program), I’ve never heard of it happening. This is because your advisor really shouldn’t let you take your qual until he knows you’re ready to pass. In reality, the hardest part of the qual is getting four professors to all agree to be in the same place for two hours on your behalf.

Anyway, it went fine, which means my thesis topic (TETS!) has the stamp of approval and I’m officially ABD (all but dissertation). I wish I could say that’s the last loose end for the semester, but I’m currently working on the take-home final for my graduate theory class and optimistically polishing up the SGP paper for it’s final “camera ready” version. We don’t yet know whether it will be accepted (and hence whether a camera ready version will even be necessary), but because the deadline for submitting the camera ready version is right in the middle of my honeymoon, I think I’d rather hedge and do the work now.

Oh yeah… we got an apartment in Germany. It’s smack in the middle of everything, about 15 minutes on foot from WIAS where I’ll be working, and 500 feet from a major transportation hub. Literally the ‘B’ in Berlin:

berlin apt map