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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


I'm heading back to Chicago this morning. Dan Spielman had a special talk in honor of his recent Nevanlinna prize. He gave an amazing talk (as always) about solving Laplacian matrix that comes from graphs, basically putting springs at every edge, nailing down some vertices and seeing where the other vertices end up. Dan's and other talks were filmed, be sure to look for them on the FOCS page in the future.

I spent most of the conference in the hallways talking to people but as someone pointed out to me, I talked almost entirely to people I already knew. I've heard complaints before young people feel they can't talk to senior researchers at STOC/FOCS. We don't do that on purpose, just like to catch up with people we've known for years, but I should try harder to meet the younger crowd.

I had one of those interesting discussions with Ketan Mulmuley on his views on the P versus NP problem (yes we are from the same city but somehow it's easier to talk in these meetings). Ketan talks about his algebraic geometry approach as a very length process towards a solution. Complexity theorists need to give up ownership of the P v NP problem (can anyone "own" a mathematical problem?) and realize that we need the algebraic geometers to help or even lead us in this journey. Ketan also view the journey as more important that the eventual resolution of P and NP. The search for a solution of the Riemann Hypothesis has yet to produce a proof but no one would say that the effort to finding one has been a failure as great math has come from that line of work. The algebraic geometry path to P v NP will yield exciting work as well. 


  1. Sure, I might be willing to buy that GCT is *really really* important. Unfortunately, I've never had a good opportunity to learn about it in depth; most of what I know is through second-hand, hand-wavy discussions of the topic (survey articles lacking technical details, and the like). Any suggestions for a good crash course in GCT?

  2. what's the FOCS best paper?

  3. It's a trap! The number of spelling and grammar errors in this post reveal it to be from Bill, not Lance!

  4. The GCT tutorial was excellent. Although I couldn't get all the geometric details, the need for interdisplinary approaches to hard problems must be emphasised.

  5. Bill, I love you and your silly cute spelling mistakes!

  6. You guys are such assholes to Bill. Grow up.

  7. Post #3 appears to be making fun of the people who give Bill a hard time by pointing out that Lance makes mistakes too.

    I can't tell what post #5 is doing.

    Neither of them resorted to foul language, which is more than can be said of post #6.

  8. bill is doing a very good job with this blog; we all have learned this by now. but i agree, his spelling mistakes are kinda cute and legendary by now.

  9. Thanks Lance for the post.

    Thanks to both of you (Lance and Bill) for the blog.

  10. Anon 3: I ran Lance's post through spell check and there were no errors. Also
    I could not see any Grammar errors.
    So, (as GASARCH would say)
    I ask this nonrhetorically,
    what are you refering to?

  11. I think anon 3 was just being cute to bill, no ?

  12. Anon #10, maybe most have been fixed since the first day of the post (I see one but it isn't worth getting into it)

  13. solving [the] Laplacian

    before [that] young

    purpose, [we] just

    view[s] the

    important tha[n] the