Cash for My Work

“Cash for My Work” is set to the music of “Part of Your World” by Alan Menken with lyrics by Howard Ashman. “Part of Your World” is from the 1989 Disney film The Little Mermaid. Alternative lyrics are by Susanne Bradley.

Lyrics

Check out my proof1
Isn’t it neat?
Don’t you think my erudition’s complete?
My scholarly work is renowned
In my obscure subfield
Look at my board
Messy, although
This math is genius, as far as you know
Looking around you might think
Sure – I’m so brilliant

I’ve got lemmas and theorems aplenty
Mathematical prowess galore
You want elegant proofs?
I have many!
But who cares?
No big deal
I’m still poor

How do I make my research sound cool?
What are some trends
That will wow the funders?
Let’s slap on some AI –
With a neural net? Yeah – deep!2
Got clever math, but that just won’t do
It needs applications that interest NSERC3
“Yes, this cures AIDS4 and kills
Terrorists, and all for cheap!”

Grant winners buy
Travel and perks
Pay undergrads to do their grunt work
Spending with glee
Wish I’d receive
Cash for my work

If I did ML5
I could just sell
Statistics for profit:
“We’ll target their ads6
Based on data we grab
From their web history!”7
But I can see
Not so easy
When all I do is stuck in theory
But to win this
Gotta spin it
All for the cash

I’ve gotta get grant applications in
No time to be clever
Just hit those buzzwords
“Something, something, deep learning8
Something, blockchain”9

For financial gain
How I would love
All the awards I ever dreamed of
Oh pretty please
Can’t I receive
Cash for my work?


  1. Lots of computer science disciplines are more into mathematical proofs than into programming awesome stuff. See, e.g., theoretical computer science – and, of course, my own field, numerical analysis. ^
  2. Deep neural networks: they’re very hip in computer science, even though nobody actually knows why they work. ^
  3. For non-Canadians, this is the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (and is pronounced “EN-serc”). ^
  4. And for Canadians: I am well aware that anything aimed at curing AIDS would probably fall under the mandate of CIHR (Canadian Institutes of Health Research) rather than NSERC. Poetic license, people. ^
  5. Stands for “machine learning” – as of 2018, arguably the hippest of the CS specializations. ^
  6. I myself did some work in machine learning during my Master’s, and considered continuing it into my Ph.D. So if it seems like I’m taking a bunch of cheap shots at machine learning by implying that it’s just glorified statistics to help big tech companies make more money from ad sales, at least know that I’m mocking myself, too. ^
  7. Alternative line that doesn’t rhyme with the next one but is more quintessentially 2018: “From their Facebook accounts!” ^
  8. Did you really think I was done with the cheap shots at machine learning? ^
  9. The blockchains reference is about cryptocurrency (e.g., Bitcoin). Because that’s pretty hip, too. ^

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