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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Visualizing Citation Networks

This semester I am responsible for writing 2 survey papers on various topics that are new to me. Since I am a newbie in these fields, I find it difficult (sometimes) to sort the "foundational" papers from the "incremental improvement" papers. Google scholar is great for this because it provides information regarding the number of times each paper has been cited (along with a list of the citing papers). Moreover, it presumably takes this into consideration when ranking query results. 

This is great, but it is not always what I want. While google is trying very hard to find papers that are relevant to my query, I may  already have a few papers in mind that I know are relevant. In this case, I am more interested in finding papers that are unknown to me and that are well cited.  Now, I could navigate Google scholar and find this information, but the process is far from automated. Instead, I would really like a tool that will draw the portion of the citation network that I am interested in. I'm sure software exists to do this, but I can't find any (and quite frankly, I don't have time to look). In that case, if you know of such software, please let me know. Otherwise, it might be interesting to develop some perl scripts  that will crawl Google scholar, and draw the results using the OpenSource program GraphViz


Automatic paging of nohup results

Recently, I've been remotely running (over ssh) a large number of long-running processes, and I have found the need to "detach" these processes from my ssh session. (So that I could power down my terminal, etc.) This can easily be done using the

UNIX nohup command, and the output is helpfully redirected to the file nohup.out


Well, not really. I don't always know how long a command will take to execute, and I really would like to be notified by a SMS message or email when the results are available. The following command does exactly that:

nohup time [LONG RUNNING COMMAND] | mail -s "nohup.out" [EMAIL ADDRESS] &

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