Posted by: jonkatz | August 18, 2009

Meeting interesting people at conferences

I’m at Crypto 2009 this week. One of the nice things about this conference is getting a chance to speak with old friends, and to meet new ones. (Of course, this is true of conferences in general, though I find Crypto much more conducive to this than the average conference.)

This post is not about meeting other researchers, however. Instead I wanted to mention my recent meetings with two more “unusual” conference attendees.

  • At STOC I happened to have lunch next to Linda Sellie. Linda was a graduate student at U. Chicago about 10 years ago, and is now a stay-at-home mom. She had a paper at COLT 2007 and a follow-up paper at STOC 2008 on learning random DNF formulae. Said Sellie (paraphrasing from memory): “I work on research whenever I get the chance, simply because I love it so much.” How refreshing to hear…
  • At Crypto I met Peter Schmidt-Nielsen, a 15-year old high-school student who is interested in cryptography. So much so, in fact, that he submitted a hash function to the SHA-3 competition. (Alas, his submission did not make it to the first round.)

There you have it: one of the best things about conferences is that you never know whom you are going to meet.



  1. “[Conferences] are like a box of chocolates…”

  2. (Or in the case of Crypto, chocolate strawberries?)

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