Saturday, January 26, 2008

Minicourse at Univ Bucharest

Update: The room is 220 (second floor) at the University of Mathematics. See you Thursday.

Original post:

On Jan 31 and Feb 1 (Thursday and Friday), I am giving a minicourse at the University of Bucharest. It extends far beyond my own research (rough topic is "geometry in theoretical CS"). I am hoping that it will provide a taste of what modern algorithmic research is like, as well as present some really cool algorithms.

The course begins at 3pm each day. The room will be announced here in a few days.

In good theory tradition, I hope you will also come to a beer on Thursday evening, after the course. Details to be arranged.

The language will be Romanian. See below for announcement:

Titlu: Perspective geometrice in dezvoltarea algoritmilor

Cum ajuta o constructie Cantor pentru cardinalitatea numerelor rationale la obtinerea unor structuri de date eficiente? De ce estimarea normelor in dimensiuni inalte este necesara la optimizarea cautarilor in baze de date? Cum pot progrese in intelegerea geometriilor ne-euclidiene sa ajute la constructia microprocesoarelor?

Perspectiva geometrica s-a dovedit din ce in ce mai utila in progresele recente in dezvoltarea algoritmilor. In acest curs, vom discuta cateva idei matematice reprezentative, si cativa algoritmi frumosi care se obtin.

Cursul este la nivel introductor si speram ca va contine idei interesante si pentru informaticieni care urasca matematica si pentru matematicieni care urasc informatica.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Travel Update

First of all, yes, I'm alive and rather well. :) Perhaps the biggestproblem is that I've been Net-deprived for about a month.

Thanks to all the people who have sent me worried email about the Kenya situation; all was ok for me, and please accept my appologies for not replying in time.

Here's a short list of what has happened. I promise to ellaborate infuture posts.

  • Jinja, Uganda: some of the best rafting in the world, due to thetruly unique features of the White Nile.
  • Semuliki Valley, Uganda: avoid the Ebola outbreak, visit the pigmies, see geysers, travel with 20-something people and 3 chicken on the back of a pick-up truck
  • Christmas, Ugandan style in Kasese
  • Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda: get mock-charged by a lion, break personal speed record for running 100m, calm down and go on jeep and boat safaris
  • Sipi Falls, Uganda: get disgusted by Ugandan tourism industry, get arrested and exercise negotiation skills
  • return to Western Kenya from Christmas break. Unknowingly wonder why buildings have been burned and there's nobody on the streets.
  • hear horror stories from town (5-7 dead per night while we were there) and evacuation stories from Kisumu. Experience living withKikuiu refugees, no supplies, and 6 liters of gas between 4 cars.
  • bribe a priest to convince bar owners to get out of their basements and sell me all beer they had. I cleaned the village, and got 27 bottles of beer (for 15 people), making for a great New Year's party.
  • evacuate to Uganda. Soon thereafter, the farm was attacked due to the Kikuiu refugees there. I'm now facing several weeks of forced vacation -- a very weird feeling.
  • find our way across Uganda to Tanzania, in the middle of an economic collapse (no supplies passing from Kenya).
  • cross Lake Victoria on ferry. A boat is never ever sold out in Africa; the question is the bribe needed to get on.
  • meet an American drug dealer, vacationing in Africa. See him get arrested while he's trying to buy something for own consumption, and hear how he talked his way out in 4 hours.
  • climb Mt Kilimanjaro! Be the first on top that morning, only to see your guide start to struggle with headaches and dizziness. Then go into hypothermic shock yourself; spend some time shivering on the bottom ofa cave, as you remark that you have lost all sensation and control in your arms. Fortunately all ended up well.
  • for the rest of the forced vacation, I am in Zanzibar, where everything is peaceful and touristy. The Indian Ocean is a fabulous underwater experience.

Well alright, everything is almost peaceful. I collided with a Sea Urchin, and about 2 dozen needles penetrated my foot and broke in there. It made for some pain and a numb leg for a day.

Not to waste the time here, I decided to go back to school, in particular scuba-diving school. The dives are truly wonderful.