reviewing in the air

In the last year and a half, I’ve been getting more requests to review papers, and I’ve been flying more. Surprisingly, they work well together, since I find airplanes to be a great time to work on paper reviews. I can’t really use my laptop on the plane, so I’m forced to sit with the paper and read it. There’s no internet to look up references, so I have to make sense of the paper on its own terms. This helps a lot when trying to evaluate how clear the exposition is. Finally, a plane trip is a chunk of time in which your distractions are limited, so it’s a good chance to really dig into a paper. The contiguous chunk of quiet time is an elusive beast in the world of research, and while the confined space of economy class is not conducive to proving lemmas (at least for me), it’s not bad for checking the proofs of others.