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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Knuth Prize

The 2005 Knuth Prize was awarded to Mihalis Yannakakis of Columbia University. Mihalis's Knuth prize lecture was on "Probability and Recursion."

9 comments:

  1. How about some more details ?

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  2. Can you please tell us what Yannakakis said in his speech? And for what results he was awarded the prize for? Also, can you please give us some details about the new results presented in the contributed talks? What happened in the tutorials?

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  3. (1) Lance did not go to FOCS, so I doubt he can give more details.

    (2) If you really wanted to know all those details I am afraid you should probably have come to Pittsburgh. I don't think anyone is going to mention more than a few highlights from FOCS(people are busy, bored, whatever).

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  4. That's cool that Greeks are still are the forefront of research!

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  5. Greeks, as well as americans both from the north and the south, europeans, asians, some folks from Michigan, swedish people, africans, norwegians, indian guys and girls, japanese people, turks, russians, and some french to guarrantee maximal entropy ...

    Yes, it is good when people follow their own path in their lives, concentrate in giving answers to esoteric questions... prizes will follow, but they are not important per se. It is, rather, more important to give some answers to the questions that matter.

    And this process has no nationality.

    - A greek.

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  6. Actually, I find the correlation of nationality with excellence in certain fields fascinating. I am not talking about anything inherent in the people but rather the accidents of history and the educational systems that cause gifted researchers in those countries to choose certain areas of research. Certain countries have had much more influence on than would be expected given their population. Greece is one but there are several others one could name. Is this purely accidental or is there something that these countries have done that the US should emulate?

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  7. Certain countries have had much more influence on than would be expected given their population. Greece is one but there are several others one could name. Is this purely accidental or is there something that these countries have done that the US should emulate?
    I don't think it is accidential: if a country C has a superb research group then this initiates a good research for long in a specific field. Are there more active fields in Greece? Also, the US strongly attracts all research power (e.g. all those people from Greece). So what's the problem with the US?

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  8. it is scary that hungarians and romanians are usually at the top of the math olympiads. sure russians, americans and others do get the top spots at times but those two countries seem to produce better than average math nerds. weird!

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  9. I think it's not weird after all. It may be a matter of education - which, come to think of it, explains many facts about people from certain countries perform better in certain topics.

    Hungarians of course. I think that it has something to do with being taught elementary number theory in high school... And we must not forget that many romanians are of hungarian origin - but not of hungarian education. So here's a natural experiment to do empirical analysis with.

    Nothing like that goes on in Greece - with the notable exception of calculus education that has been introduced in high school, I believe since the sixties. Computer science education is relatively feeble in high-school, though some institutions (University of Patras, University of Crete, the NTUA Polytechnic, and perhaps the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki) have very strong faculty and equipment.

    I will stick to my previous comment. After all, excellence in some fields as the discussants have put it is not a matter of passport bearing. Some social interactions could exist, but I don't believe that they are that strong enough so as to establish causal effects.

    - the greek before.

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