Sunday, April 12, 2015

DIMACS seeks an Associate Director

DIMACS continues to thrive, with its current Director Rebecca Wright, finding, following and leading the flow of Theoretical Computer Science as it meanders through ever new application areas and burrows to new foundations. DIMACS is looking for an Associate Director.

Short Blurb: 

The DIMACS Center at Rutgers University ( is seeking an Associate Director. DIMACS facilitates research, education, and outreach in discrete mathematics, computer science theory, algorithms, mathematical and statistical methods, and their applications..  The Associate Director is expected to play a leadership role in planning, developing, and running DIMACS activities and programs, including setting new directions.  A PhD in computer science, mathematics, operations research, statistics, or a related field is preferred. Applicants with a doctorate will be considered for Associate Director with a non-tenure-track calendar-year research faculty appointment at Rutgers. Highly qualified applicants without a doctorate will be considered for a staff appointment as Assistant Director. For more details, visit


Saturday, March 28, 2015

Art in Life

Friends ask me, are you doing Art?  I see Art these days from the corner of my eye, as it darts, streaks, comet like. My little one:
  • I showed her a Charlie Chaplain film and she said, "Buster Keaton is better, Daddy", and settled a longstanding open question.
  • She called me once during work and said, "I saw the Girl with Pearl Earring, Daddy", meaning the puristic painting, not the book or movie. 
  • She watched a street drummer in SF and said, "He is not good Daddy, he doesnt sweat like Satchmo", because I told her, you have to sweat to do great. 
  • She recognized the Joan Miro in de Young and said, "Woman!". 

Research Days

Nisheeth Vishnoi, (whenever I see him, I am reminded that thoughts --- do and have to --- run ultra deep in research), is organizing this year's Research Day at EPFL, Lausanne, June 30, poster on the left. 


Sunday, March 01, 2015

Few Good Lines

Over the past few weeks, people asked me for few lines on ...
  • The best line from a movie, "Boards don't hit back". 
  • On Valentines': every time I would buy coffee beans,  I would buy a  new kind and I would come downstairs in the morning, grind them, make myself a cup, make sure it tasted ok, before the rest of the family woke up. 
  • On Family: Spending 3 hrs washing, wiping, drying and transporting $100 IKEA wood tiles, doing it together as a family. 
  • On Being a Parent: When you are any fraction x into the hike, be prepared for the remaining 1-x, to carry the food, drink, jackets, and her scooter on your back, and your kid on your shoulder while she sings "Let it go". 

Weekend Update

What was my saturday like? I made myself some black coffee and pancakes. I couldnt bring myself to read the news, far too many unfolding events in the world had the potential to distract me. Instead, I washed, sanded and primed the roughly 50ft X 5 ft fence. I needed something on the sidewalk to catch the drips and decided to buy a weekend WSJ. And while I may have been Tom and the art of painting is a lustrous seductive, no neighbors volunteered to swap their treasures for my brush. And when I was done, I cleaned up with thinners, choosing to leave some white primer on my beard, which no one noticed. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Rob's 60th

Rob Calderbank is a mathematician of great caliber in coding and information theory, including its algebraic aspects. He is the winner of the Shannon award and the Hamming medal. Rob's 60th birthday celebration will be in La Jolla this weekend. He was a terrific mentor to me at AT&T in years long behind us, and I am looking forward to being at the celebration!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Again, On Haruki

I am a schoolteacher in Ashiya (Hyogo Prefecture). Each year, while the students stay the same, I age towards something, maybe my end, who knows.

I teach the English I know, and mostly avoid the new.  This year, as usual, I discussed the Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and asked the  students to write something inspired by it. Tell-Tale Heart is the story of the narrator who decides to murder the Old Man, and slowly, surreptitiously puts his head inside the Old Man's bedroom in preparation:  "Oh, you would have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in! I moved it slowly --very, very slowly, so that I might not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour to place my whole head within the opening so far that I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha! would a madman have been so wise as this, And then, when my head was well in the room, I undid the lantern cautiously-oh, so cautiously --cautiously (for the hinges creaked) --I undid it just so much that a single thin ray fell upon the vulture eye." Thus begins the tale that ends in a scream of "tear up the planks! here, here! --It is the beating of his hideous heart!".  The students came up with the usual -- one person narrative, unreliable protagonist's plan for a murder -- and the usual unusual -- a reverse perspective of the Old Man sitting absolutely still in darkness anticipating the single thin ray of lantern. I then did what I have done each year since early 60's, read to the class a few selected student pieces from my past. When I read "Elevator, Silence" by my student Haruki, the class excitedly told me that Haruki had just published that story.

Well, "Elevator, Silence" is a short story about a man riding an elevator:  he cant tell if it is still or moving, it has no control panel, it seems hermetically sealed, his coughing and whistling produce no sound,  altogether a scary predicament. He whiles away the time by counting the change in his pocket: "I always come prepared with pockets full of loose change. In my right pocket I keep one-hundred and five-hundred yen coins, in my left fifties and tens. One-yen and five-yen coins I carry in a back pocket, but as a  rule these dont enter into the count". The story ends with terror, "The only possibility was that they had intentionally placed me in this particular situation. They wanted the elevator's motions to be opaque to me. They wanted the elevator to move so slow that I wouldnt be able to tell if it is going up or down."

Now it is alright as a student piece, but  I dont know how to make that into a published story. Maybe Haruki added more to it, introduced a chubby woman or unicorn or may be a plot about End of the World. He didnt strike me as an imaginative boy, but people grow up, they start operating bars or writing novels. I havent read Haruki's story yet, but I am not sure modern writing has anything to teach these children. I dont let decades intrude my classroom.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Setting 2014 down

Happy holidays everyone! I hope you set 2014 down gently and meet 2015 with energy.

Spurring by an offline conversation, let me add: Some people make the days of their lives and its instant decisions sound difficult, some infuse them with gravitas, yet others with visions of achievement, drama, seriousness, etc. I work very hard to package my grimed fingernails, sleepless sumping and sweat of research, work and relationships, submerge the package, stand on top of it, and sketch aparcus of fun, art, smiles and puzzles. That is what I am, every year. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

On Urban Planning and Story Telling

When I was in University (it doesnt matter which prefecture), I enrolled for a class in Urban Planning. Now I can imagine many reasons why I might have done that, I was 20 yrs old, and I focused more on easy grades and good looking fellow students than learning. Whatever the reason, I didnt really make it to classroom all semester except once. That day, I was drinking my tea in the students center as usual, reading the Monkey King, and puzzling over not being able to recall the monkey's name. I happened to talk to a student, she was easy on eyes, our conversation flowed and before I knew it, I was accompanying her to her class, which coincidentally turned out to be Urban Planning. Her father was a government official in-charge of the local Dept of Buildings, and she really cared about Urban Planning. I dont know why, but to this day I remember what happened in the class. The professor taught us about zoning (how buildings have to be set back a fixed amount from the street) and water runoff (how to build catch basin and french drains to capture runoff from neighbors).

I told this to my friend Haruki in college, and he later told me he wrote a short story about it. I didnt think I had much of a story but I read Haruki's and you know, he is a real writer, he can imagine things I cant even contemplate, his story was creative and went places my mind couldnt be dragged. In the end, it was not my story at all, it could only have come out of Haruki's mind.

But my story continues. Years later, I bought a place that needed a lot of work. I could easily build my own fence because I knew what the setback was, and I built a catch basin too and watched the runoff from my neighbors property.