Sunday, January 30, 2005


This week I'm in the great Garden State of New Jersey (my home state) for back to back DIMACS workshops on Bounded Rationality and Markets as Predictive Devices.

Since 1989 DIMACS (the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science) has greatly served our community with a collection of workshops, visitor and postdoc programs built around special years (later becoming special foci as they extended to several years). The workshops this week come under the Special Focus on Computation and the Socio-Economic Sciences. DIMACS also has a strong educational mission with programs for teacher training and for high school and undergraduate students.

DIMACS started as a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center and when that program ended in 2000 DIMACS continues through a series of smaller state and federal grants. DIMACS based at Rutgers has partners drawn from several New Jersey universities and research laboratories. DIMACS has a strong but small staff and many volunteers within our community but I attribute the recent continued strength of DIMACS mostly to the tireless efforts of its director Fred Roberts.

DIMACS plays an important central organizing effort in theoretical computer science and has often represented theory to the NSF and other funding agencies. DIMACS has had an important direct and indirect role in my academic career and I suspect the careers of most theorists. Let's hope DIMACS can continue its multifaceted role in our field for decades to come.


  1. I second Lance's salute to DIMACS. No theorist can deny that DIMACS has had a huge beneficial impact; as an institution in our field it's in a league of its own.

    But to be perfectly fair, this coffee drinker would maintain that DIMACS coffee is also in a league of its own; and this time not in a good way.

    Of course maybe this is just my own personal taste quibble...but I do know strong men -- coffee-loving men -- who make a point of eschewing DIMACS coffee.

    Does anyone have other tips on theory coffee venues to seek out or avoid?

  2. With its myriad of wonderful cafes, Berkeley is undoubtedly the theory coffee mecca. Get recommendations from your host next time you are there.

  3. It's not clear to me that Berkeley isn't beat out by Seattle. In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, at least, competition means that every single coffee shop has free wireless. They also tend to make pretty good coffee.
    Best Coffee: Caffe Vita.
    Best Espresso: Vivace.
    I wrote my 80% of my thesis in: Top Pot.

    Elsewhere, Small World in Princeton has the distinction of being "Acknowledged" in a Ran Raz paper.

  4. If you're ever around Carnegie Mellon, Walnut Street in Pittsburgh has the excellent Coffee Tree Roasters. Several other coffee shops around there, but that's the best.