When it rains, it pours: I'm attending three conferences within the span of just about five weeks! Early in March, I presented at a conference on Combinatorics, Graph Theory, and Computing in Boca Raton, Florida. The talk was about a certain kind of subgraph for extracting test sequences from a formal protocol specification. It was mostly the work of a colleague at LIU – I joined the project fairly late – but he wasn't available to present it, so I went. We intend to submit the work to a math journal sometime in May.
Model checking, type theory, and testing all have similar aims – improving the correctness and reliability of software and hardware systems – and yet the techniques seem to come from different communities, with different vocabularies and outlooks. I know of a few papers that have tried to build bridges between these areas, but I've worked in all three and I'm still not sure how they relate!
The second conference was the IEEE Data Compression Conference, this past week in Snowbird, Utah. I presented our work on type-based compression of XML. This was strange, being in a completely different community, and yet I found another person – a functional programming guy – who was in the same situation! The conference went reasonably well, and I did learn a lot. I learned that I have no understanding of (or affinity for) image compression, with its wavelet transforms and peak signal-to-noise ratios. Text compression just makes much more sense to me.
I saw very little of it, but Utah was indeed beautiful. The constant backdrop of mountains around Salt Lake City was breathtaking. I imagine if you live there it's easy to lose sight of them. Just like how we never noticed how often the twin towers appeared in the background of movies filmed in pre-9/11 NYC – until you watch them post-9/11 and they suddenly stand out.
A ski resort is probably not my ideal conference location. I don't really ski; I've been against it since grade school, when I observed the regularity with which my skiing classmates returned from trips with all manner of broken limbs and sprained joints. No, I tend to like urban settings, preferably foreign ones, where there are lots of other things to see and do, and not everyone stays at the same conference mega-hotel. Other recent conferences I've attended were in great cities such as Glasgow, Warsaw, Nice, London, Vancouver, and Paris.
Finally, tomorrow is the start of the Trends in Functional Programming conference here in New York City. I'm not presenting at this one, but since it's in town it seemed worthwhile to go. I'll have to miss most of Tuesday's events because of my teaching schedule, but half of the day is reserved for a city tour, so that's not a big loss for a NYC resident! :)