This page is about ways to obtain information.

During your PhD you will study a specific subject area and will need to have access to information about that subject. Another very important goal of PhD research is to learn about the wider aspects of your subject. There are a number of ways to develop this knowledge.

Your most important sources of information will be:

- Your supervisor(s).
- Your fellow PhD students.
- Other lecturers and post-docs in the department.

An important way to learn about the wider aspects of the subject is to attend the various department seminars. It is recommended to attend these seminars even when the subject is not directly related to your research interests, because this will expose you to new ideas and expand your knowledge of the wider research environment. Seminars are mostly held during term time.

- The Mathematics department seminar. This
is usually held on Tuesdays at 4:00pm and tends
to feature invited lectures on mathematical
topics.
- Postcrypt. This is an informal paper study
group on recent papers in cryptography.
The traditional style of reading papers at
Royal Holloway is to take a cynical, sceptical
and aggressive view of the paper, especially if it
is written by someone famous. You should
not be discouraged by this.
The way to get the most out of this forum is to read the paper in advance and to not be afraid to ask questions which you may think are `stupid'. There is no such thing as a stupid question.

- The ISG research seminar. This is usually
held on Tuesdays at 12:15. It features talks on
cryptography/information security, usually given
by lecturers, post-docs and PhD students from
Royal Holloway.
- Industrial seminar in information security.
This is part of the MSc degree, but PhD students
are welcome to attend.
- You are welcome to attend undergraduate lectures in the mathematics department or lectures for the MSc in information security.

You will need to read books and papers. There are a number of ways to get hold of them.

- Internet. If you see a reference to a recent paper
by an author then the first step is to type the author's
name into google or the paper title into google scholar.
Many researchers have ps or pdf files
of their recent papers on their homepages.
- Another good place to find papers is to look
at the
eprint
and
arxiv
preprint archives. These
are places where authors can deposit papers or preprints
before they are published.
It is a good idea to check these archives regularly.
- A number of journals are now offering papers free
online (especially recent papers, or papers which have
not yet appeared in print). You can find journal
websites using google.
- Royal Holloway has electronic subscriptions to a number
of journals. Probably the most useful of these is
Springerlink, which
allows access to almost all articles published in Springer lecture
notes in computer science.
The search facility for Springerlink is terrible (the only way I know to access proceedings in LNCS if you know the volume number is to go to `advanced search' and enter `0302-9743' as the ISSN and then enter the volume number).

A much nicer way to access articles (Springer or not) is to use the DBLP service.

- The library. This subscribes to a number of journals,
and of course contains books. An
online
catalogue is available.
Books and papers not in the library can be obtained by interlibrary loan or document delivery service. Information is available on the library web page. You will need a signed form from your supervisor.

If there is a book which you think should be in the library (and is still in print) then let your supervisor know and they can order it.

- Access can be granted to other libraries in the london area. See the RHUL library web page for information.

For non-mathematical questions the you can also ask your supervisor or the director of graduate studies. The college web pages contain information about accommodation, student welfare etc and you should have been given a `postgraduate handbook'. Further details about the paperwork associated with PhD students is available here.

The college offers training for postgraduate students which covers topics such as time management, research skills, how to write your thesis etc. These courses are highly recommended. Information is available here.

Students funded by the EPSRC are encouraged to attend a `UK GRAD Programme Graduate School' event. This will develop generic/transferable skills. Information is available from the UK GRAD Programme website.

There are external organisations which are of interest.

- The
LMS (London Mathematical Society)
does many good things for the UK Mathematics community.
You are encouraged to become a student member.
The LMS runs short courses as well as large conferences such as the annual British Mathematics Colloquium.

- The IACR (International Association
of Cryptologic Research)
website lists upcoming events in cryptology.
You should discuss with your supervisor which conferences you should attend. Typically students will attend one or two major international conferences during their PhD, as well as some smaller UK/European workshops.

You may have occasion to use computer packages to perform calculations. There are various options, depending on the nature of the problem.

The best package for algebraic or geometric computation is Magma. It costs money and the department has a small number of licences.

Mathematica is widely available, especially on the undergraduate machines, and is suitable for more calculus-based applications.

Some free packages which are useful for some problems include NTL, GMP and MIRACL. Most of these are libraries which are called from within C or C++ programmes. The PARI system can be used as a library or in calculator mode (i.e., like Magma or Mathematica).

You will be expected to write mathematical documents using the LaTeX package. This will be installed on your computer. If you haven't used it before, the best thing is to borrow a document from someone and fiddle with it. A very short LaTeX sample document is available here for this purpose.

Other LaTeX resources:

- Short Math Guide for Latex.
- Huge list of systems for slide projections (I personally use the beamer class).
- Information about bibtex.

Document author: S. D. Galbraith

Document modified: 14/10/2005

If there is anything that should be changed/added/removed in/to/from this
note then please let the author know.