Thursday, November 20, 2008

Three Days in San Francisco

I started the week with a Misfits concert, those 31-year-old punk classics that have influenced all-time favorites like Slayer and Metallica.

Historical note: If the following are familiar to you...
  • "Die, die, die, my darling..."
  • "Here in this place lies the genie of death"
  • "I got something to say: I killed your baby today"
... chances are it is the Metallica inflections that are now ringing in your head. However, it is worth remembering that these are originally Misfits songs.

I continued with Alistair Sinclair's "Mixing times for the solid-on-solid model". As usual, I think this is great theory, but not theory of computer science. (Here, Mikkel tries to make a similar point, cutting even deeper to define theory of computer science.)
Personal note: Attending such talks is always very interesting to me. In a short previous life, I was a Physicist (I even won 1st and 2nd prizes in the Romanian Physics Olympiad in '96 - '97). This left me with great physics intuition, but not that much mathematical intuition on how to formalize "physics proofs" (at that age, my appreciation of Math was very limited). It is very rewarding to catch up on the mathematical intuition, whenever I get a chance.

Finally, I had a chance to listen to some great music from Nels Cline and his band. This led to the interesting exercise of trying to triangulate Cline's heavy, academic jazz relative to black jazz and the Béla Bartók classical music.

The U.S. is a big country, but there are not many places where you can hear the Misfits, Sinclair, and Cline in a span of three days.

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