Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rabin's Birthday Celebration

While I was not blogging, we spent the few days before the semester started with an 80th birthday workshop for Michael Rabin.  Impressively, we were able to pull it off despite the best efforts of Hurricane Irene, thanks to the many speakers who made an extra effort to get there, well beyond the call of duty.  Because some speakers couldn't make it (flight cancellations), and we were worried about storm cleanup, we postponed the start until Monday afternoon, but other than that, it went fantastically well.  (A credit to the organization of Les Valiant!)   

Richard Lipton described it all in this blog post, so I don't have to.  (The only negative thing in his post is that he refers to me as Mitz -- clearly because it's the easiest way of distinguishing me from the guest of honor, he doesn't call me that regularly -- which feels strange to me as I haven't been called that regularly since middle school.) 

If any coding theory people are reading this, I thought I'd point out that the slides for my talk (as well as the slides for many of the other talks), which was on coding theory, are available here.  In particular my talk is about how Michael Rabin's JACM paper on the Information Dispersal Algorithm was remarkably prescient, setting up some basic ideas and foundations for both the later work in LDPC codes and network coding.  While the paper is far from unknown (Google scholar has it at well over 1000 citations), I'm not sure how widely appreciated the paper is in the coding theory circles;  it was a pleasure for me to go back and reread it with new eyes to prepare for this talk. 

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