Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Random thought while working on a deadline...

In the suited-and-booted corporate world, dress codes are quite strict. The only place you get to show your "flair" is in your tie.

The title of a submission is our "tie".

Case in point: Knuth's "Toilet Paper Problem".

Update: Of course I forgot to mention the classic example of 'mandated flair'.

Monday, November 21, 2005

SoCG Abstracts deadline.

Now that we're all done with the Fall Workshop, it's time to submit those abstracts to SoCG. This year, the commitee has instituted an abstracts deadline of Nov 23 in addition to the paper deadline of Dec 5, so you have till Wednesday !

The submission server is up, and can be found via the conference web site. Here is the note from the conference chairs:

Dear Computational Geometers,

The Web site for submissions to the ACM Symposium on Computational Geometry is now up, and can be accessed through the conference Web site at http://www.cs.arizona.edu/~socg06/.

This year we want people to submit an abstract by Nov 23, before the paper deadline of Dec 5. We will use these abstracts to assign papers to committee members, so that the committee members will have more time to read the papers. Please be aware that if you do NOT submit an abstract by Nov 23, there will be some delay in getting you paper to the committee.

Looking foward to seeing your recent work!

Nina Amenta
Otfried Cheong
If I may be permitted a brief snark, I hope people will submit not-so-recent work as well :).

Friday, November 18, 2005

FWCG 2005: Day I

Organizing a workshop is far more work than being on the commitee or giving a talk ! I spent much of the day worrying about things that had to be planned, whether the talks would run over, whether the abstract booklets would show up, and countless other things. No major fiascos, so far....

We had a number of nice talks, and it was interesting to see application themes like statistics, visualization and biology get repeated over and over again. I think it is often hard to see the impact of geometry because there are few clear cut areas where theoretical results in their pristine form are needed (like in cryptography). But concepts like Delaunay triangulations, orthogonal range trees, and binary space partitions are now ubiquitous in many application areas, and this is definitely a success story for the field.

Tamal Dey's talk on surface reconstruction was particularly interesting for a different reason. It illustrated to me firstly how much topology I still need to know to understand some of the more cutting edge methods that are being used in this area, and further illustrated that methods from topology (combinatorial, algebraic) are going to be more and more important in extending the range of geometric problems that we can now deal with.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Quantum CVS

In a previous post, I had asked for emacs-based approaches to tracking changes in a document. There were many useful suggestions, some of which I might actually try out. The most promising is also the most intriguing. It is called darcs:
Darcs is [..] based on a "theory of patches" with roots in quantum mechanics
There's more.
I have looked at patches as being analogous to the operators of quantum mechanics. I include in this appendix footnotes explaining the theory of patches in terms of the theory of quantum mechanics.
Takes quantum computing to a new level....

I should add that the patch software itself appears quite reasonable, and in fact came highly recommended in the comments to my prior post. The main connection to QM appears to be the fact that patch operations are reversible (there is also some stuff about commutativity of patch operators).

Sunday, November 13, 2005

It must be something in the air

There are a number of academic bloggers at the University of Chicago. Lance was blogging about complexity theory a good two years before blogging became the verb of the year. He also just started a complexity podcast (here's the Odeo channel), and now I discover that the University of Chicago itself has a podcast, produced by the Office of the Vice President for Research. The podcasts showcase researchers from the university, spanning the gamut of topics (astronomy, ecology, law, and divinity being the topics of the last four shows).

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fall Workshop on Computational Geometry, 2005: Schedule

The schedule for this year's Fall Workshop on Geometry and Visualization is up! Take a look, and if you're in Philly, drop by ! Registration is free, but we do ask that you let us know.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Tracking changes in Emacs/LaTeX

Probably the only thing I like about Word is the Track Changes feature. Once you turn it on, you can track all changes you make to a document, and when you have multiple co-authors editing, this can be handy when attempting to resolve disputes. Also, often what happens is that I make some changes that my co-author doesn't notice because they are buried deep in the middle of a section, and it would help to have some way of marking these up.

Most people I know have some kind of \note mechanism for making margin notes, but that doesn't help with changes that you know you want to make, but also want the co-author(s) to look at. Does Emacs/LaTeX have macros for tracking changes in documents ?

p.s for those of you who will immediately write in suggesting that I use CVS, remember that I am behind a firewall, and even if I weren't, CVS is a heavy hammer for something as simple as this :).

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Edge of Computation Prize

Edge.org is a "third culture" site that
takes a good deal of its inspiration and its view of the intellectual landscape from C. P. Snow's division of intellectual culture into two camps, the literary and the scientific. Snow's 1959 book The Two Cultures presents a reading of intellectual history which argues, in part, that twentieth-century literary intellectuals attempted to commandeer the title of intellectual from the scientists, delegitimatizing scientists as men and women of letters and attempting to exclude them from the intellectual mainstream. Snow laid the principal blame on the literati, but also chided scientists for failing to defend their rightful cultural prerogatives. Snow eventually came round to the view (presented in his 1963 essay "The Two Cultures: A Second Look") that a "third culture" would emerge, fusing the old dual cultures and placing the literary and the scientific on co-equal terms, communicating and cross-fertilizing each other.
They have a prize called The Edge of Computation, whose mandate they describe as:
Metaphors of information processing and computation are at the center of today's intellectual action. A new and unified language of science is beginning to emerge. Concepts of information and computation have infiltrated a wide range of sciences, from mathematics, physics and cosmology, to cognitive psychology, to evolutionary biology, to genetic engineering. [...]

The Prize recognizes individual achievement in scientific work that embodies extensions of the computational idea — the design space created by Turing. It is a 21st Century prize in recognition of cutting edge work — theoretical, experimental, or both — performed, published, or newly applied within the past ten years.
The prize is worth $100,000, and there are a number of nominations (some multiple nominations as well). The list is interesting, and worth perusing (although the double nomination for Stephen Wolfram might not please Cosma Shalizi :)).

What I noticed though that among the nominations most relevant to theoretical computer science are three quantum computing experts, Charles Bennett, David Deutsch and Peter Shor. David Haussler, Gregory Chaitin and Martin Davis round out the list. Although we all know that prizes are superficial lotteries, it did pique my curiosity to see that a large majority of theoretical computer scientists deemed worthy of recognition this way are people involved with quantum computing.

Should I be reading anything into this ? Is any computing unrelated to quantum computing now a pointless exercise in combinatorics ? Is BQP the true model of effective computation, making all other (classical) models irrelevant and outdated ? Am I just a paranoid android ?

Update (11/14/05): David Deutsch wins !

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