Saturday, March 07, 2009

some last notes on EWSCS

The British Colloquium for Theoretical Computer Science (BCTCS) is the nearest British event to EWSCS. The main difference is that BCTCS is mainly contributed talks; at EWSCS the 5 mini-courses took up most of the time, with just 8 student presentations. Making the slides for my introduction to computational game theory took more time than I'd anticipated; probably because previous talks I've done on the topic have been research talks with less emphasis on doing a detailed introduction to the background. The format in which lecturers do 4.5 hours of lectures, seems like a good idea, but requires quite a lot of care on the part of lecturers - if you get it wrong the loss is of course bigger than for just a 1-hour talk.

The students who attended EWSCS seemed to be well-prepared and asked plenty of searching questions. The Russian contingent all came from St Petersburg, probably due to its proximity, also this seems to be something of a tradition. At least 2 of them were undergraduates, who has heard about this event due to being in a club for students whose interest in CS goes beyond the content of their degree course - such an organisation must be a good way to find prospective PhD students; probably better than just looking for students who got good marks, which correlates positively but weakly with interest in pursuing further research.

I came home late on Friday, after passing on the opportunity to visit Tallinn's historic centre; that will have to wait until another trip. On the way back to the airport (via the bus station) there is no hint of this tourist attraction - just a gloomy procession of rust-stained, Soviet-era concrete apartment blocks, going on for mile after mile. (I did not bother to check that these buildings were Soviet-era; indeed, the phrase is essentially a handy label for all the concrete stumps that to this day, continue to go up in all parts of the world. Le Corbusier has a lot to answer for.)

I thank Helger Lipmaa for inviting me to lecture at EWCSC 2009.


annyu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
annyu said...

It's a pity that you didn't visit the center of Tallinn and didn't see all that wonderful medieval stuff. You may consider you have a perfect excuse to come to Estonia again. Unfortunately, today's town-planners continue erecting ugly high-rise buildings in the center and periphery, and it certainly ruins city's skyline and breaks some beautiful views. Brodsky wrote: "Le Corbusier and the Luftwaffe have in common that both worked flat out to change the look of Europe: what was forgotten by the Cyclopses in their fury was soberly completed by pencils", and it seems correct.

Paul Goldberg said...

Well, I will try to come back to see the center. At EWSCS I was given a tourist brochure of Tallinn - to its credit, it has a section on Tallinn's Soviet Legacy, with subsection on Architecture, and a picture of the sort of building I mentioned in the post (so, not just the nice central area!).

James Chapman said...

In the UK there's also the Midlands Graduate School

which I've attended in the past and serves a similar purpose I think.

Although, it's firmly on the semantics side. Is that A or B? I can't remember.

Good to meet you in Estonia Paul!


Helger said...

It was very nice to meet you indeed - it seemed that you enjoyed this week there. People enjoyed your talks - especially the part that had psychedelic pictures. I think only a few people knew anything about AGT before your lectures, but I hope your lectures were not zero-knowledge. :)

Anyhow - having Russian students is by now a good tradition we would like to continue for a while.

As for Tallinn, the suburbs *really* look ugly. They have been improved during the last 10-15 years, but given enough money they should just be demolished. May be after the recession, eh. On the other hand, the centre is really, really beautiful - I showed some of the good parts to three of the lecturers on Friday.