27th August, 2010
I rather dislike “the community” as a term, it’s too easy to mentally substitute it as other people or useful idiots.
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14th August, 2010
I flew, with colleagues, to Portland in Oregon for the Diagrams 2010 conference. We arrived on a Saturday and departed the following Thursday. This makes it the shortest period that I’ve ever taken a long-haul flight for. So today I’m feeling rough: approximately one part dead, four parts like I have some painful communicable disease and six parts hungover. I’m counting on a smoked rasher sandwich to right all the ills in the world.
As I previously posted, Portland is fantastic. We partook in many of the local cultural delights such as visiting Powell’s book store, sampling ale at the Deschutes micro-brewery and visiting the Bite of Oregon festival. I spent $10 at Powells and picked up a copy of Flatland and a copy of Wittgenstein’s Brown and Blue book. To my lifelong shame, I made a beeline for the maths section, but totally forgot to visit the computing section! The conference banquet was in the local art museum, which was excellent. They have a collection of American abstract art which Paolo Bottoni kindly explained to me. They also have some Rodin sculptures and a sculpture by Picasso, a Monet water-lilly, an early Van Gogh and several other impressionist works by artists such as Cezzane. All very beautiful.
The conference itself was an excellent event. I thoroughly enjoyed Randall Davis’ keynote. He demonstrated the breadth and depth of research that you might expect from an MIT lab. His assertion that we should be having a conversation with our computers has already influenced how I think some of our sketch recognition work should proceed.
There were lots of excellent papers. Two in particular will, I think, influence future directions of my own research. The first is by Koji Mineshima, Mitsuhiro Okada and Ryo Takemura titled “Two Types of Diagrammatic Inference System: Natural Deduction Style and Resolution Style”. In this paper they do lots of interesting things, including quantifying free rides by comparison of Euler diagrams and certain sentential forms used in reasoning. The second is by Mathias Frisch, Jens Heydekorn and Raimund Dachselt titled “Diagram Editing on Interactive Displays Using Multi-Touch and Pen Gestures”. They demonstrated some really well done software for drawing certain types of diagrams. I’m particularly interested in taking the approach described in Davis’ keynote, the design and technology described by Frisch et al. and the constraint based layout described by Tim Dwyer in “Hi-tree layout using quadratic programming ” to inform our sketch recognition stuff.
There were some other great papers. David Landy spoke about his “Toward a physics of equations” and demo’ed his very, very cool iPhone/iPad application that helped him capture his findings. The papers that won the best paper prizes were, unsurprisingly, interesting and well presented.
All in all, I had a great time in Portland. I enjoyed the beer and the food was better than food I’ve eaten anywhere I’ve visited in the US. And thankfully, the rasher sandwich seems to be doing its thing. I might even get some work done later
Posted at 12:27 pm | Comments Off
12th August, 2010
Threads, window managers and complex text layout.
Posted at 12:14 pm | Comments Off
8th August, 2010
We arrived in Portland, Oregon last night (local time) after a 23 hour trip from London. My first impressions of this city are very positive. We’re on the Portland State University campus, which is it’s own – couple of square blocks – district about a 20 minute walk from the centre of down town. The rooms are large, clean and have lots of services.
Portland appears to have a very good public transport system. Buses are a common site and there’s a train/metro system. Furthermore, cycling seems to be actively encouraged through public notices. This morning I witnessed a cycling event over the bridges which must have had several thousand participants. Other than public transport, recycling appears to be taken as a core civic responsibility. I suppose, I get the feeling that Portland has an outlook that chimes with my European biases. Unfortunately, like many US cities I’ve visited, there seems to be a very visible population of homeless people. Again, my Euro-social-safteynet bias kicks in and I assume that the proportion of homeless people in Dublin/London/Berlin is lower.
There’s a food festival today, which I intend to attend. Portland is also noted for it’s numerous micro-breweries. In order to escape the effects of jet-lag, we partook in a sampling of the local Ale specialities last night. And as a food and beer lover I was impressed. Moreso by the beer than the food, however I’ve high expectations from the food festival today. It was recommended by some locals we got talking to in one of the Ale establishments. For what it’s worth, in the 15 hours or so that I’ve spent here I’ve only encountered friendly people.
Posted at 5:32 pm | Comments Off