2007
03.31

Comment on Above average by Sariel Har-Peled

There is a copy in my home. The relevant people should know where it is…

Moral prinicipals – whats that?

2007
03.31

Comment: “Above average”

New comment on your post #489 “Above average”
Author : Sariel Har-Peled
Comment:
There is a copy in my home. The relevant people should know where it is…

Moral prinicipals – whats that?

2007
03.31

Comment: “Above average”

New comment on your post #489 “Above average”
Author : Chandra
Comment:
Would you be able to bring back a copy of the book to Urbana? Or is it against your moral principles?

2007
03.31

Comment on Above average by Chandra

Would you be able to bring back a copy of the book to Urbana? Or is it against your moral principles?

2007
03.31

Above average

Above average is a book by Amitab Bagchi that was published recently in India. It is somewhat autobiographical, and tell the story of a teenager growing in Delhi, entering IIT and his life there.

But above everything else it is a story about growing up. About coming to terms with ones abilities and limitations in the context of a competitive environment like IIT, and finding, if not happiness, at least stability and acceptance of oneself. A search made harder by the environmental pressures. A search that is not over for a lot of people in universities (either graduate students or faculty). Indeed, in such an environment your achievements in the rat race are equated as happiness, and the pressure to succeed is omnipresent. Hell, how can you be happy if your GPA is only 70 out of a 100?

I grew up in a different setup were there was a competitive pressure because of my friends, but ultimately there was no real pressure. Getting into university, and grad school were essentially a trivial achievements with no pain. This is in contrast to the IIT system were you have to do quite well in an exam (200,000 take it), rank in the top 200 to enter computer science. Even then, during your undergrad there is an unrelenting pressure to have good grades and succeed. The difference between my relatively relaxed experience and the experience of the hero of Above Average was quite interesting. The story got me thinking about my own personality and research and how much I am competition averse (in some sense, before some people start making nasty comments).

But Above Average is much more than that. I liked its descriptions of life in Delhi, and its descriptions of human relationships. I had fun reading it, and while I was deeply disappointed that no aliens from outer space landed by page 70 of the book, I do recommend it.

This book is largely a collection of snapshots. You might find some snapshots strange and bizarre, and some of them you would recognize from your own life. A trip back to earlier times and experiences. There is something comforting in that growing up in Tel-Aviv and Delhi can be so different but yet so similar.

———————
Oh, and one of my photographs of Amitab was used in some newspaper article about him in India. Heck, I am a published photographer now (without credit, but what can you do).

2007
03.29

Preservering distances

The classical result of Johnson-Lindenstrauss showed that distance between n points are preserved if one projects them down to **O(eps-2 log n )** dimensions. It turns out however that much more information is being preserved. Indeed, Avner Magen showed that even angles and volumes defined by the point sets are preserved.

But can even more structure be preserved? It turns out that considerably more structure survives as long as this structure is low dimensional. In particular, distances between n (low dimensional) curves are being preserved (i.e., for every pair of points on the two curves the distances are preserved). This even holds for “nice” surfaces. Namely, these low-dimensional creatures are preserved in the embedding. This holds also to moving points that have nice motion.

Interestingly, one can show that distances are preserved with additive error for surfaces with bounded doubling dimension.

You can see more details (and more relevant refs) in the upcoming SoCG paper by Pankaj Agarwal and Hai Yu (and myself), available here.

There still seem be interesting research left to be done. We still do not seem to know completely what structures are being preserved and which are not.

2007
03.25

Korea 1 – Arrival

Made it to KAIST, Korea. After uneventful flights from Delhi through Hong Kong to Seoul, I was picked up by Otfried from the new airport. Stayed the night over in Seoul and then continued by fast train to Daejeon (150km in about 50 minutes). My apartment in the guest house is quite nice. Except for the Korean alphabet (which is BTW very interesting), the place feels like a western country.

2007
03.25

India 16 – the end

It was sad to leave my “new” friends behind in Delhi. It was a great visit and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I had a great time, but who knows when I would come back?

And so it goes….

2007
03.22

Comment on India 15 – Back by Sariel Har-Peled

Oh, dont talk to me about theories. I hate them. Did you know that evolution is a theory??? Theories are just pyramid schemes – a theory leads only to more theories that lead to even more theories.

2007
03.22

Comment on India 15 – Back by kunal

There is a theory that keeping nearly every one of nearly 300 people seated in a 2ft-by-2ft space on long-haul flights is a difficult problem, especially if you want these people to voluntarily enter the plane again. Keeping the carts rolling through the aisles is, like showing Bond movies, an approach to distract said passengers, and thus an attempt to solve the problem.

2007
03.21

Comment on India 15 – Back by Alice

No whining, my friend! You landed safely and had an uneventful flight. That’s all there is to hope for when flying these days.

2007
03.20

India 15 – Back

Made it back to India – Amitab & Rhatika picked me up from the airport and now it is time to crash after 14 hours flight.

Strange to come back here and not feel like traveling in a foreign land.

Why oh why does American Airlines shows stupid Bond movies on the flights?

And what the point of giving you “breakfast” in the airplane just before you land at 8:30pm?

2007
03.18

Urbana – time to leave (again)

Did my US taxes, and tomorrow I am flying back to India for 3 days before I continue to S. Korea. I am really looking forward to my Korea trip, but I definitely not looking forward to saying goodbye to my friends in Urbana and in Delhi. Oh well, one can not be everywhere… Physical existence is such an anachronism. Something must be done.

2007
03.17

Comment on Verifying that only type 1 fonts are in the pdf file by Anonymous

It’s also important to realize that font demons may be lingering inside figures embedded in the PDF..

2007
03.16

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by Shripad

Uh-oh. I hope it’s not the Indian government giving you work-permit problems. In any case, your front lawn looks surprisingly tangle free. Congratulations!

2007
03.16

Confession

If you follow the news you know that the white house is having trouble explaining the firing of the eight united states attorneys early in 2005. At some point the explanation was that “it is standard procedure”, the next it is “everybody does it”, the next it is “they did not do their job properly”, the next it is “they did not pursue election fraud properly“. And the latest is of course that it was NOT (I repeat NOT) Harriet E. Miers idea. (You remember her, she is the lady that caused the perfect storm when she was a candidate to be a judge in the supreme court. That was not her idea either BTW. I think she must stop not having these ideas.) Of course, Gonzales took full responsibility for the firing as long as taking responsibility had no consequences. But as long as W does not say that “Gonzy, you did a heck of a job“, I think he is safe.

Avert your eyes from these bumbling fools – they really dont know how it happened.

I have a confession to make.

It was me. Yes. Me. One day I just woke up and I had this brilliant idea to fire these attorneys. It just felt right. It just made sense. I am sure that Nicky felt the same level of being right about his little idea as I was about mine. Admittedly it was not as big as my previous brilliant idea (i.e., invading Iraq), which in hindsight was not so great (but in the US it does not matter if your idea is good or not, it just matters if it is big, and man this one was a bigy).

So using my undocumented psych powers I implanted the idea in the brains of the current administration bigwigs, and the rest is history…

In my next confession – why did I kill Jesus.

2007
03.16

Verifying that only type 1 fonts are in the pdf file

pdffonts (under linux, naturally) checks the fonts of a pdf file, in particular useful for verifying the pdf file you are submitting to the proceedings has only Type 1 fonts.

2007
03.14

Comment on NYT… by Anonymous

Well, most of the newspaper articles hardly has anything new anyways. For that matter, most of the articles in academic journals also contain very little new information.
It is always good to have more reports about sciences, especially those which dont have mad scientists going berserk and comets landing on earth.

2007
03.14

Comment: “Whats wrong with the following picture?”

New comment on your post #478 “Whats wrong with the following picture?”
Author : Sariel Har-Peled
Comment:
Exactly! I took it while being in Urbana because of work permit problems. I was suppose to be in India. I am in Urbana till this Monday (19th).

2007
03.14

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by Sariel Har-Peled

Exactly! I took it while being in Urbana because of work permit problems. I was suppose to be in India. I am in Urbana till this Monday (19th). Then I fly back to Delhi for 3 days, then South Korea, etc…

2007
03.13

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by Anonymous

yes, mrc, rumors are that Sariel bot this super-high-zoom lens from the Delhi black market.

2007
03.13

Comment on How did the free market came into the world? by Herve

Sariel: I liked your story very much. The style and topic are delightful. Congratulations!

2007
03.13

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by mrc

hell of a zoom lens!

2007
03.13

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by misgav

the timing! you took it while a sabbatical year in the other side of the world.

2007
03.13

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by Sariel Har-Peled

I blame the snow for the cleanness. The picture is of my home in Urbana…

No clue who stole the bushes…

2007
03.13

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by Manor

Man, it’s so clean! Obviously you aren’t around home.
Who stole the bushes?

2007
03.13

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by kunal

Where was it taken?

2007
03.12

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by Sariel Har-Peled

So true. But yet not the main problem with this picture.

A hint – it was taken last week.

2007
03.12

Comment on Whats wrong with the following picture? by Andrea

It looks like the leaves weren’t raked before the snow fell.

2007
03.12

Whats wrong with the following picture?