Thursday, January 31, 2013

ICALP 2013 deadline is two weeks away

The second call for papers for ICALP 2013 is available here. I hope that several readers of this blog will submit some of their best work to the conference. The deadline for submissions is February 15.

This is the 40th ICALP and, in addition to the invited talks and the award addresses, will also feature a special EATCS Lecture by Jon Kleinberg to celebrate this festive occasion.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pearls of Computation: A new seminar series

This coming Friday I will kick off a new seminar series organized by ICE-TCS at Reykjavik University. The seminar series is called Pearls of Computation and aims at presenting the work of some of the recipients of the ACM Turing Award (or of some other major award related to computer science) in an accessible way. The target audience consists of students in computer science and anyone with a potential interest in the subject. (The inspiration for this seminar series comes from the Pearls of Theory talks that were held at BRICS in Aarhus in a past that looks so far away now.)

We will try to tell the stories behind the scientific contributions of some of the key figures in computer science in a non-technical way, highlighting the context in which they were made, the state of the art at the time, why they are important and what impact they have had. In the process, I believe that both the attendees and the speakers will all learn something new and develop an increased appreciation (and, why not, pride) for the contributions of some of the people who have shaped our field.

My inaugural talk in this series will be devoted to the life and work of Robin Milner (1934-2010), whose work has had a deep and lasting influence on my modest contribution to concurrency theory. The schedule for the talks that will take place this semester is available here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Jaco de Bakker, 1939-2012

Jaco de Bakker, one of the founding fathers of the EATCS and a prominent Dutch TCS researcher, passed away on December 13, 2013. The following obituary by Jan Bergstra, Jan Willem Klop and Jan Rutten has been circulated recently on the Concurrency mailing list and appears on the web site of the Academia Europaea as well as on the EATCS web site.

On December 13, 2012, our colleague Jacobus Willem (Jaco) de Bakker, member of the Section Informatics of the Academia Europaea since 1990, passed away surrounded by his family in his home in Amsterdam after a short illness. He is survived by his wife Angeline, his children Bas, Jaska, Catrien, Jacob and Lisa, and two grandchildren.

Jaco was born on March 7, 1939, in Ede, the Netherlands. He was for more than 38 years, from 1964 until 2002, connected as Head of the Computer Science Department to the Mathematical Centre, later called CWI  (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica) in Amsterdam. He was a Fellow of CWI since 2002. In 1973 he was appointed as Professor in Computer Science, in particular for the mathematical semantics of programming languages and reasoning on program correctness, at the VU University Amsterdam, at that time called Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He occupied this professorship until his emeritate in 2002. In 1989 he was appointed as a member  of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), in the Section Mathematics. In 1972, Jaco was one of the founding fathers of the EATCS, the European Association for Theoretical Computer Science; he was Vice-President of the EATCS from 1972 until 1982, and Member of the Board until 1988. Since 1998 he was honorary member of IFIP Working Group 2.2, Formal Description of Programming Concepts. In 2002, during his retirement symposium at CWI, he received the Royal Decoration Knight of the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands (Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw).

Jaco de Bakker started his scientific career with his Ph.-D. thesis in 1967 at the University of Amsterdam, with promotor Adriaan (Aad) van Wijngaarden, entitled: Formal Definition of Programming Languages: with an Application to the Definition of ALGOL 60. Jaco de Bakker was world-wide known and recognized for his pioneering work in developing the denotational and operational semantics of many basic features in programming languages, in a precise and rigorous mathematical style. One of its highlights became known as
the induction rule of De Bakker and Scott. This culminated in his book Mathematical Theory of Program Correctness (1980). Later on, in the early eighties, he turned to the theory of communicating processes, introduced by Hoare and Milner, a theory known in those days as "concurrency". His initial investigations in this field were in cooperation with Jeffery Zucker. The basic features in this theoretical area were treated in the same mathematically rigorous style in his book Control Flow Semantics (1996) together with Erik
de Vink. Apart from these books, he wrote more than 150 scientific articles.

In the Netherlands Jaco de Bakker was the originator of an extensive school of theoretical computer scientists. He supervised many Ph.D.-theses, and was the driving force in the eighties, together with Willem-Paul de Roever and Grzegorz Rozenberg, behind several nation-wide programmes for research and education in the Netherlands, such as REX (Research and Education in Concurrent Systems). REX lasted from 1988 to 1993; it was preceded by LPC (Landelijk Project Concurrency, National Project Concurrency) from 1984-1988. Prior to these programmes Jaco was Director, together with Jan van Leeuwen, of the 'Advanced Course on Foundations of Computer Science', a biennial series of influential courses with international attendance, from 1974 to 1982, held in Amsterdam. Jaco was also one of the founding fathers in 1979 of the Dutch Association for Theoretical Computer Science (WTI, Werkgemeenschap Theoretische Informatica), since 1995 called NVTI (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Theoretische Informatica). Jaco was Chairman of the WTI from 1979 until 1987. Jaco was proud of the fact that 32 scientists who at some time worked in his group were eventually appointed full professor.

Also in the eighties, Jaco was instrumental in stimulating the involvement and participation of the Dutch research community in the big European computer science frameworks such as FAST, Meteor, ESPRIT (European Programme for Research in Information Technology) and BRA (Basic Research Actions). As Head of the CWI Department Software Engineering he stimulated intensive contacts with the European research community, resulting in a lively and productive research atmosphere in which researchers of many nationalities cooperated on a regular basis.

In addition to playing a crucial role in education and research in theoretical computer science, Jaco de Bakker was also a gifted and respected science director and administrator. He influenced  the lives of many of us. We all remember him as a great scientist and  an amiable person. Moreover many computer scientists will remember him as a friend.

Jan Bergstra, Jan Willem Klop and Jan Rutten

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Heidelberg Laureate Forum

I have been asked to distribute this announcement, which was sent on the IMU Newsletter. This sounds like a potentially interesting initiative, which might be of interest to some of the young researchers in TCS. 

You may have heard of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings
which are now in their 63rd year and have become a unique
platform for the dialogue between different scientific
generations in medicine, physics, chemistry, and the
economic sciences, fields for which Nobel Prizes are
awarded, see

Creating a similar event for mathematics and/or computer
science has been contemplated by various persons and groups.
Thanks to Klaus Tschira and his foundation, this idea has
now become reality.

The first Heidelberg Laureate Forum will take place from
September 22 until 27, 2013 and bring together the best
students in mathematics and computer science with winners
of the most prestigious awards in these two disciplines:
Abel, Fields, and Turing Laureates. Detailed information
can be found at

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum is supported by various
institutions, among these are
- The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
- The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
- The International Mathematical Union (IMU)
which award the three outstanding prizes.

In the attachment is the press release which describes
how young researchers in the fields of mathematics and
computer science can apply for participation. The
application Web page is:

IMU asks the readers of IMU-Net to distribute this
information among their friends and colleagues so
that as many potential candidates for participation
as possible are reached. Please note that the
application deadline is

February 15, 2013.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

2013 AMS David P. Robbins Prize to Alexander Razborov

TCS folks might like to know that the American Mathematical Society has announced that Alexander Razborov is the recipient of the 2013 AMS David P. Robbins Prize. The Robbins Prize is given every three years for a paper that reports on novel research in algebra, combinatorics, or discrete mathematics.

Razborov receives the prize for his paper "On the minimal density of triangles in graphs" (Combinatorics, Probability and Computing, 17 (2008), no. 4, 603-618), and for introducing flag algebras to solve problems in extremal combinatorics.

The full citation for this prize and additional information can be found in the massive Joint Mathematics Meetings Prize Booklet. Bloggers may like to read the response by John Baez to receiving the 2013 AMS Levi L. Conant Prize. (Presented annually, the Conant Prize recognizes the best expository paper published in either the Notices of the AMS or the Bulletin of the AMS in the preceding five years.) John writes:
I put a lot of energy into explaining math and physics online. Blogging is no substitute for more formal writing about academic subjects, but it fills a gap, especially for the millions who don’t live near a good research university. Socrates complained that “writing is unfortunately like painting, for the creations of the painter have the attitude of life, yet if you ask them a question they preserve a solemn silence.” This is no longer true with blogs: the author is there to answer your questions! So, I am hoping that eventually blogs will be taken seriously by academia and the AMS will have an award for the best mathematics blog. But I am very happy to receive this prize for a more traditional form of mathematics exposition.
Congratulations to all the prize recipients and happy 2013 to everyone.