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Michael Cohen 1992-2017 and Vladimir Voevodsky 1966–2017

October 3, 2017


Two more tragic losses coming before a greater tragedy

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Michael Cohen and Vladimir Voevodsky were in different stages of their careers. Cohen was a graduate student at MIT and was visiting the Simons Institute in Berkeley. He passed away suddenly a week ago Monday on a day he was scheduled to give a talk. Voevodsky won a Fields Medal in 2002 and was a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He passed away Saturday, also unexpectedly.

Today we join those grieving both losses.
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Drama Therapy: A Math Viewpoint

September 19, 2017


What is drama therapy?

Kathryn Farley obtained her PhD from Northwestern University in performance studies in 2007. After almost a decade working in that area, she has just started a Master’s program at New York University in a related field called drama therapy (DT).

Today, I thought I would talk about the math aspects of DT.
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Happy Birthday Ken

September 15, 2017


It was just Ken’s birthday

Kenneth Regan’s birthday was just the other day.

I believe I join all in wishing him a wonder unbirthday today. Read more…

A TSP Breakthrough

September 11, 2017


A new approximation algorithm

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Ola Svensson, Jakub Tarnawski, and László Végh have made a breakthrough in the area of approximation algorithms. Tarnawski is a student of Svensson at EPFL in Lausanne—they have another paper in FOCS on matchings to note—while Végh was a postdoc at Georgia Tech six years ago and is now at the London School of Economics.

Today Ken and I want to highlight their wonderful new result.

Svensson, Tarnawski, and Végh (STV) have created a constant-factor approximation algorithm for the asymmetric traveling salesman problem (ATSP). This solves a long-standing open problem and is a breakthrough of the first order. Read more…

A Retirement Party for Joel Seiferas

August 29, 2017


A gathering this Labor Day in Rochester

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Joel Seiferas retired on December 31, 2016 and is now a professor emeritus in the University of Rochester Computer Science Department.

Today Ken and I wish to talk about his party happening this Labor Day—September 4th.
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On the Edge of Eclipses and P=NP

August 17, 2017


A topical look at Norbert Blum’s paper and wider thoughts.

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Thales of Miletus may—or may not—have accurately predicted one or more total solar eclipses in the years 585 through 581 BCE.

Today we discuss the nature of science viewed from mathematics and computing. A serious claim of {\mathsf{NP \neq P}} by Norbert Blum has shot in front of what we were planning to say about next Monday’s total solar eclipse in the US. Update 9/2/17: Blum has retracted his claim—see update at end.
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Modeling Reality

August 9, 2017


A surprising theorem about differential equations

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Olivier Bournez and Amaury Pouly have proved an interesting theorem about modeling physical systems. They presented their paper at ICALP 2017 last month in Warsaw.

Today Ken and I wish to explain their theorem and its possible connections to complexity theory. Read more…