Monday, May 01, 2017

Easy memory aides

Certain memory aides are so ... well.. memorable that they stick in your mind exactly the way they should. Here are three that I've heard of:


  • Keeping track of the Baltic states: I think I heard this from +Fernando Pereira - They are alphabetical in order from north to south. So it's Estonia, Latvia and then Lithuania. 
  • Converting between miles and kilometers: This is a particularly geek-friendly mnemonic - If the value in miles is (close to) a Fibonacci number, the value in kilometers is (close to) the next Fibonacci number. This works because the golden ratio is very close to the miles-to-km conversion factor.
  • Keeping track of type-I/type-II errors: I heard this one on twitter the other day, and it goes like this. In the story of the boy who cried wolf, the errors appear in order. 
Things I need memory aides for:
  • Bernstein vs McDiarmid vs Azuma, or different Chernoff bounds in general. 
  • Jensen's inequality, so I don't have to constantly draw the picture of the convex function to derive it.
  • Submodularity vs supermodularity: I know you add the diagonals and compare them, but which way is which???
Others? 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

TheoryFest at STOC 2017.

(ed: I can't believe it's been four months since my last post. Granted, I've been posting over at algorithmicfairness.wordpress.com, but still. Time to turn in my theory card...)

One of the things I've been doing is helping out with the STOC TheoryFest this summer. Specifically, I've been on the plenary talks committee that was tasked with identifying interesting papers from other parts of CS and beyond that might be interesting for a STOC audience to hear about. After many months of deliberations, we're finally done! Boaz has more details over at his blog.

Do take a look at the papers. Boaz has a great summary for each paper, as well as links to the sources. You'll see a pretty decent coverage of different topics in CS, including even some theory B !!

But more importantly, please do register for STOC! This year, the organizers are making a real effort to restructure the conference to make it more accessible with a diversity of events like the plenary talks, tutorials, and workshops, and there should be something for everyone. Early registration ends on May 21, so click that link now.

In this day and age, I don't need to emphasize the importance of standing up and being counted. If you've ever grumbled about the old and stultifying format of STOC, this is your chance to vote with your feet. A big success for TheoryFest 2017 will surely encourage more along these lines in future years.

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