Wednesday, August 13, 2008

CCCG: Spending Time With Smart People Is Fun

Day one of the Canadian Conference on Computational Geometry has just wound down here in Montreal. Most of the Carleton crew is currently hanging out at what is allegedly the equivalent of our grad bar Mike's Place. I say allegedly because this place is more like a castle than our windowless watering hole. Anyway, the conference so far has been really cool, and I'm learning a lot.

I took the bus from Ottawa to Montreal yesterday, and then we walked uphill for about 30 minutes to the residences we would be staying in. Luckily, it didn't rain, but it was uncomfortably hot compared to home. The rooms turned out to be decent, though basic.

There was a reception in the evening in the better-than-Mike's Place. Because this edition of CCCG marks the 20th Anniversary and the return to McGill University, registration is free. So we got printed proceedings and a bunch of free food. Not bad! I chatted with a bunch of Carleton people I haven't seen in a while as well as some new folks. One of the most interesting was Erik Demaine's dad. Erik's a bit of a celebrity academic in my books. His dad was saying that he hasn't lived in the same place for more than five years or so (I can't remember exactly). He was pretty surprised to learn that the only time I moved in my life, I moved just down the road.

After the reception, we went to Brutopia, a brew pub I thought I had been to before (turned out I was confused). I tried to impress everyone with the beer knowledge I'd learned from Andrew, but eventually I got confused and had to back track on that.

There was a pretty good variety in talks today (Wedesday), both in subject and quality. The highlight of the day was the invited speaker Ron Graham. Not only did he work closely with Erdős and come up with the Graham Scan for convex hulls, but apparently he juggles!

I think that'll have to be it for now, given that we haven't had dinner yet and need to pick a place. All I can say is that hanging out with smart people is actually really fun!


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