When I was a researcher at University, I had to come up with creative ideas at a rapid pace. Here’s a straightforward approach that may help you generate innovative concepts for your job, business, or research goals.
My particular research focus was graph partitioning, i.e., dividing a massive computer science graph structure into smaller chunks that can be distributed to multiple machines for parallel computing.
To find research ideas, I tried multiple things. One thing I tried was this simple Python script that helped me uncover interesting research gaps in my area of expertise.
💡 You can easily modify it to help you generate unique ideas in your field!
This code is writing the combination of concepts and properties to a file. The file is opened for writing, and for each concept, the properties are written with the concept appended to each line. After the last property for the concept, a new line is written to the file. This process is repeated for each concept before the file is closed.
concepts = ["GAS", "Edge-cut", "Vertex-cut", "BSP"] properties = ["elastic", "geo-distributed", "GPU-based", "disk-based", "asynchronous"] outfile = "combinatoricalIdeas.dat" with open(outfile, "w") as out: for c in concepts: for p in properties: out.write(p + " " + c + "\n") out.write("\n")
Here’s the output of my idea recombination framework for enhanced creativity 😆:
elastic GAS geo-distributed GAS GPU-based GAS disk-based GAS asynchronous GAS elastic Edge-cut geo-distributed Edge-cut GPU-based Edge-cut disk-based Edge-cut asynchronous Edge-cut elastic Vertex-cut geo-distributed Vertex-cut GPU-based Vertex-cut disk-based Vertex-cut asynchronous Vertex-cut elastic BSP geo-distributed BSP GPU-based BSP disk-based BSP asynchronous BSP
The code simple combines nouns with adjectives or specifiers that are relevant in my particular domain. You don’t need to understand terms such as “BSP” or “Vertex-cut” to see that these are potentially interesting combinations of ideas.
Many of them have never been researched by anybody! See the Google Scholar results of “Geo-Distributed Vertex-Cut”:
It is a 100% solid, perfect “research gap” that is open for the taking. The first paper filling it will surely contribute to the scientific community — even though it may not be super relevant.
However, if you’re not interested in rocket science, this approach to finding “research gaps” through simple recombination of concepts in your area of expertise will surely give you some interesting food for thoughts!
Here’s this same idea applied to find a great niche business:
app = ["decentralized app", "social network", "dating app"] target = ["gay people", "toddlers", "rich people", "newly-weds"] for a in app: for t in target: print(a, 'for', t) print()
decentralized app for gay people decentralized app for toddlers decentralized app for rich people decentralized app for newly-weds social network for gay people social network for toddlers social network for rich people social network for newly-weds dating app for gay people dating app for toddlers dating app for rich people dating app for newly-weds
There are some really promising and fun ideas among those. Don’t underestimate the power of a simple idea recombination Python script! 🤯
💪 Action Step: Whatever your current area of expertise or interest. Create your own version of this simple yet powerful Python recombination script for inspiration!
Certify Your Skills
While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com that has taught exponential skills to millions of coders worldwide. He’s the author of the best-selling programming books Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), The Art of Clean Code (NoStarch 2022), and The Book of Dash (NoStarch 2022). Chris also coauthored the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books. He’s a computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.