Tuesday, January 06, 2009

I went to SODA 2009!

I just got back from SODA 2009 in New York (Symposium on Discrete Algorithms). In later posts I will describe some of the interesting papers that I saw, Today I'll just note some things.
  1. Why did I go? One of the papers I covered in my grad class (On the Power of two, three, or four probes by Alon and Feige) was a SODA2009 paper, so I looked at the schedule and spotted 10 more papers that I was interested in. AND it was close AND my parents live in NY so no hotel fee AND school hasn't begun yet for me so no problem with missing appointments.
  2. They had coffee but no food and no lunch. Since I recently was local organizer for COMPLEXITY (with Richard Chang and Marius Zimand) I KNOW how expensive food can be, so I have NO complaint here. I may never be able to complain about a conference again (unless its REALLY bad in which case I can complain more legit, or unless they claim to be refereed but are not).
  3. They did not have proceedings! They had all of the papers on line at the SODA website, and they had a CD. PRO: no bulky proceedings to take home, might save paper. CON: Hard to browse through proceedings at conference or at home. This will get easier with technology. MY OPINION: Good Idea.
  4. For me the talks were easier to understand than those at Complexity. This is because those that were on algorithms, describing the problem was reasonable (in complexity just describing the problem is hard) and those that were on complexity or combinatorics or some odd-ball mathematics, were the ones I was familiar with so could follow.
  5. There were around 400 people there!
  6. Was it worth going- YES. Will I go again- If the stars align themselves properly again then I will.
  7. Michael Sipser once told me Its good to look at algorithms once in a while as a sanity check on your lower bounds.

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