I’m now fairly settled back in Canada, arrived from SOFSEM 2008 in Slovakia. In the middle of the picture at right you might see a round—like a short tube on its end—building, which was our hotel and conference site.

The event was a few firsts for me: my first time presenting at an international conference, my first time in Europe, and of course my first time at SOFSEM. I’d highly recommend the conference to those in Canada—or anywhere outside of the former Czechoslovakia, really—who might not have heard of it. It was a really good mix of all sorts of computer science topics and a nice mix of theory of practice. The conference was a good size and generally a lot of fun.

As luck would have it, I got roomed with a fellow name Matej Košík, a Ph.D. student from Bratislava. He was looking forward to my talk, and his talk turned out to be one of the highlights for me. He was building a robust operating system kernel, sort of carrying all the advantages of a conventional microkernel, but based on static analysis, with the help of the specialized programming language Pict, instead of memory protection. One of the open problems for him was that kernel components can use up arbitrary CPU cycles or memory, which is where my research might fit in.

Other contributions of interest for me were some proofs of upper and lower bounds of proving group properties—i.e., proving that a semi-group is a group, or proving that a groupoid is a quasigroup—in matrix representation on a quantum computer; a new technique for getting shorter regular expressions on a DFA to regular expression transformation; a proof that valence-2 graph isomorphism is logspace-complete; a bunch of semantic web stuff, which I don’t follow very closely, but I like to hear about it and see the pretty pictures; an invited talk by Jarkko Kari on a novel way to prove non-termination of Wang tiles; deniable encryption; electronic voting. It was just a cornucopia of cool stuff; even if the conference didn’t attract the World Expert in any one topic, it was very cool to see what was going on in so many interesting areas.

In between all of this, and sometimes in lieu of it, of course, was going out to see the mountains and trying some of the local alcohol with some very cool grad students, though strangely Slovakian beer was pretty hard to find, Czech beer being much more common. I have taken a number of pictures.

For those who are interested, my research page has a link to my paper and to my presentation. If you don’t understand catamorphisms on the first try of reading the paper, maybe the presentation will make things more clear ha!