Friday, June 26, 2009

The Conceptual Wars

Scott Aaronson, in his regular post-FOCS-notification column, has indicated me as a leader of the Technicians Resistance Army of TCS (a leader, at least, in irășcibility).

As Anup points out, our guerrilla force shall strive to remain concealed in the shadows of the dark STOC/FOCS committee rooms. But, as an exposed member, I must accept my destiny as a preacher of our movement during the coming conceptual wars.

My basic plan is to sing the ideas of theoretical computer science from the rooftops 1. I want to convince you that we have a destiny grander than communicating with quantum aliens. I want to remind you of the beauty of the algorithm. I want to tell you mystical prophecies about the depth our field will achieve when it will show, e.g., that max flow needs superlinear time. And, yes, I want to reprehend you for behaving like a bitter fringe mathematician instead of accepting the place of TCS as the New Maths... Or for having such low self-esteem that you will gladly wipe the floors of the Economics department for some attention. And, against all odds, I want to convince you that solving hard problems is more rewarding than inventing easy new ones.


Just, please, hold off the war for a few weeks. For now, I am the chair of the Scientific Committee of the CEOI (Central European Olympiad in Informatics). These kids have prepared for years to get here, and we owe them some exciting problems (which will certainly find their way to the blog later).

1 This cool quotation comes, I believe, from Scott's job application. I learned of it in a bar from a friend who was on the job market at the same time as Scott. My friend added "I don't have this [...] in me."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Conceptual Contributions Conference

At STOC, there was an announcement of a new conference dedicated to conceptual contributions, titled ICS (Innovations in Computer Science). Michael asks for more discussion on this conference.

Personally, I am enthusiastic about ICS. It seems like one of the best ideas in decades for improving the quality of STOC/FOCS.