Sunday, September 05, 2010


From August 30 till the very early hours of September 3, I was in Paris to co-chair SOS 2010 and attend CONCUR 2010. It is always a pleasure to have the chance to attend CONCUR, which is the flagship conference for the concurrency-theory community, and the lure of Paris made this conference even more attractive than usual.

CONCUR 2010 was perfectly organized by Paul Gastin (LSV, ENS Cachan, France), François Laroussinie (LIAFA, Université Denis Diderot - Paris 7, France) and their support team (see the bottom of this page for the details), and was held at Université Denis Diderot - Paris 7.

According to the program chairs, there were 160 people registered for the main conference and 215 people were registered for the conference or one of the eight affiliated events. I am not a CONCUR historian, but I believe that this makes this edition of CONCUR one of the best attended on record, together with the one held in Bologna last year. I do not find this level of attendance particularly surprising----after all, Paris is an attractive city and it is one of the hotbeds of research in concurrency theory. However, it is a great credit to the organizational effort that everything went smoothly and that the atmosphere at the conference was relaxed and conducive to both scientific and social exchanges.

On behalf of the CONCUR community, I'd like to say thanks to François, Paul and their support team for organizing a great conference. We had many excellent talks on a variety of exciting topics, a session devoted to Robin Milner (chaired by Matthew Hennessy and featuring a talk by Jos Baeten), varied and tasty lunches served next to the conference room, and yet another edition of the CONCUR football match (which saw about 20 participants kick a ball around for about one hour before the conference dinner).

I hope to devote another post to the main conference and to SOS 2010. Here I will just limit myself to a few brief remarks on the invited talks that I could attend. (Unfortunately, I had to leave at an ungodly early hour on Friday, 3 September, and therefore I missed  Holger Hermann's invited presentation and the last day of the conference. Knowing Holger's communication skills, I am sure that I missed a great talk. I hope that Holger will make a recording of his talk available from his web page.)

The conference was given the best possible start by Vladimiro Sassone, who delivered a very clear talk entitled Trust in Anonymity Networks.  In his presentation, after having introduced the basic setting of anonymity protocols, Vladimiro presented an analysis of the privacy guarantees of the Crowds anonymity protocol, with and without onion forwarding, for standard and adaptive attacks against the trust level of honest users.

I had the great honour of chairing the session featuring the second invited talks, which was delivered by Maurice Herlihy. After-lunch sessions are always challenging, especially when the conference is held in France, but Maurice's talk, entitled Applications of Shellable Complexes to Distributed Computing, was the perfect digestive after an excellent lunch. In his talk, Maurice reviewed some of the ideas behind his award-winning application of tools from algebraic topology to distributed computing and then discussed some very recent results that will be presented at DISC 2010 in the paper Concurrent Computing and Shellable Complexes co-authored with Sergio Rajsbaum.

In her talk Taming Distributed Asynchronous Systems, Anca Muscholl delivered a good overview of many results and open problems related to  analysis techniques for distributed, asynchronous systems with two kinds of synchronization, namely shared variables and fifo channels. Anca has just received the prestigious CNRS silver medal for 2010 for computer science. Congrats to her!

The last invited talk I was able to attend was delivered by Frank S. de Boer, who gave a presentation entitled Dating Concurrent Objects: Real-Time Modeling and Schedulability Analysis. After giving the audience an overview of the CREDO project, Frank introduced a real-time extension of the concurrent object-oriented language Creol, and showed us how to analyze schedulability of an abstraction of real-time concurrent objects in terms of timed automata. He concluded the talk by telling the audience about techniques for testing the conformance between these behavioral abstractions and the executable semantics of Real-Time Creol in Real-Time Maude. I enjoyed the talk, and I think that Frank was successful in keeping his audience away from their laptops and in making the attendees resist the temptation of checking their email during his talk, which was one of his stated aims!

Addendum.  Holger Hermann's invited presentation is now available (in flash) from here. Enjoy!

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