ACM Awards at FCRC
Michael and Lance have already blogged about the ACM awards, here are some delayed bits.
- Awards. Leslie Valiant, the Turing award winner, got a standing ovation. He spoke about the early, risky days of STOC when researchers had to "climb the wall of fear that not much science there to be discovered" in CS, and how, as a result, the STOC community was truly open and encouraged new ideas. Will 20 years from now a Turing award winner say that about today's STOC? Craig Gentry thanked Leslie in a meta way, for showing that sometimes one needed messy intermediate computations to prove the eventual, clean theorems. The awards of 2011 had support from companies like Google, Microsoft and IBM. Alfred Spector, ever precise and thoughtful, allowed himself a poetic moment when he said (paraphrased), "CS is in the heart of Google, we hope to remain in the heart of CS". On a personal note, I spent the evening admiring the constellation of great fellows from Dan Spielman to Michael Jordan, Christos Faloutsos, Fernando Pereira, Jennifer Chayes, Subhash Suri, Phil Klein, Amr Abadi and others, congratulations to them!
- ACM: The programming contest had about 20k students from 2k schools across 80+ countries. Wow. ACM has 100k+ members.
- Attire. It was good to see researchers like Lance carry a Tux superbly. I had to get something pronto from the local mall. In the final moments, I realized I needed a belt, and in what proved to be a great detour, bought a skateboarder belt with hand-drawn art from the fantastic Circle-A shop, and got some tips for skater music cafe. San Jose has its edge(s)!
- All else. Conversation at my table involved words like Mimesis, books like "In the realm of hungry ghost", ageism in awards if any, etc.