WADS 2007: Day #1

I figure I should write a blog entry now before I actually forget what happened yesterday!

Session 1 (Invited Talk)
The day started with a presentation whose major title was "Finding small holes" given by Jeff Erickson. It was a small talk on computational topology. It was surprisingly interesting and I was very intrigued overall by the area. The presentation placed an emphasis on a practical application of itself, which was surface reconstruction from potentially noisy data. The processes described showed how surface reconstruction could be done much better by taking advantage of computational topology. No actual algorithms were presented, but the ideas to establish the algorithms were.

For all of you with low G.P.A.s and thinking you wouldn't really be able to go beyond an undergraduate degree because of it, think again. Jeff Erickson cracked a joke about him being potentially one of the lower G.P.A.s amongst most professors with a 2.4/4.0. Doing well in undergraduate studies doesn't necessarily mean you're prepared to do research and be a professor, and similarly for not doing so well you could be perfect through graduate studies. If it's something you would really like to do, get out there and do it!

Session 2B
Nothing particularly interesting here besides for the last talk of the session. At first I thought it was going to be ridiculous because they themed their talk around Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge, but it was actually quite interesting. The paper was called "The Stackelberg minimum spanning tree game." Their problem was to take a graph with some known and unknown edge weights, and fill in the edges with unknown weights such that the MST maximizes the sum of the values of the weights given to the unknown edges (sorry if I lost you there). One of the characters which presented this talk was Erik Demaine, a guy who came to Dalhousie at age 14 (I think that's right). He's 26 now and is a professor at MIT. The man is brilliant and quite comical also!

Session 3A
I probably should have went to session B here because this session was completely about graph drawing, which isn't a real particular interest of mine. It was cute, but that's about it.

Session 4A
A couple of interesting computational geometry presentations in this session: steiner trees, art gallery problems, and Delaunay triangulations. The last one was particularly interesting because of the reference to one of its practical applications, which is triangulating GIS data for 3D representation. I enjoyed these talks and I think it gives computational geometry a +1 on my list of things I would potentially do for my thesis/grad studies.

All in all, a great day!

No comments: