Sunday, November 30, 2014

A neat problem from the 1989 Maths Olympiads

A few days ago, Universidad Complutense de Madrid hosted a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Spanish Maths Olympiads. The programme involved three talks. The first was on "other number systems" (quaternions and octonions) and the second dealt with the roots of random polynomials. In the third talk,  Vicente Muñoz Velázquez presented his personal views on the nature of mathematics before discussing some of the highlights of his research area leading to Yang-Mills and Mass Gap.

According to Vicente, mathematics is a human product and its characteristics are:
  • (The rules of) Logic, 
  • (Modelling of) Reality, 
  • Beauty (transversality, relations between apparently distant fields, generalization and abstraction), 
  • Social activity,
  • Applicability. 
I could not help but think that those characteristics apply equally well to computer science, with the added twist that computer scientists are not only modelling reality, but also inventing and breathing life into "new realities".

During his talk, Vicente presented a problem from the 1989 International Maths Olympiad, in which he took part.

The problem was:

Prove that for each positive integer n there exist n consecutive positive integers none of which is a prime or a prime power.

This is a neat problem that perhaps some of you might like to try and solve.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

EATCS Fellows 2015: Call for Nominations

In case you have not seen it before, here is the call for nominations for EATCS Fellows 2015.  Do nominate strong candidates for this accolade!
Please note: all nominees and nominators must be EATCS Members

Submit by December 31 of the current year for Fellow consideration by
email to the EATCS Secretary ( The subject line
of the email should read "EATCS Fellow Nomination - ".


The EATCS Fellows Program is established by the Association to
recognize outstanding EATCS Members for their scientific achievements
in the field of Theoretical Computer Science. The Fellow status is
conferred by the EATCS Fellows-Selection Committee upon a person
having a track record of intellectual and organizational leadership
within the EATCS community.  Fellows are expected to be “model
citizens” of the TCS community, helping to develop the standing of TCS
beyond the frontiers of the community.

In order to be considered by the EATCS Fellows-Selection Committee,
candidates must be nominated by at least four EATCS Members.  
Please verify your membership at

The EATCS Fellows-Selection Committee consists of 

- Rocco De Nicola (IMT Lucca, Italy) 
- Paul Goldberg (Oxford, UK)
- Anca Muscholl (Bordeaux, France)
- Dorothea Wagner (Karlsruhe, Germany, chair)
- Roger Wattenhofer (ETH Zurich, CH)


A nomination should consist of answers to the questions below. It can
be co-signed by several EATCS members. At least two nomination letters 
per candidate are recommended. If you are supporting the
nomination from within the candidate's field of
expertise, it is expected that you will be specific about the
individual's technical contributions.

To be considered, nominations for 2015 must be received by December 31, 2014.

1. Name of candidate
Candidate's current affiliation and position
Candidate's email address, postal address and phone number
Nominator(s) relationship to the candidate

2. Short summary of candidate's accomplishments (citation -- 25 words or less)

3. Candidate's accomplishments: Identify the most important
contributions that qualify the candidate for the rank of EATCS Fellow
according to the following two categories: 

A) Technical achievements
B) Outstanding service to the TCS community

Please limit your comments to at most three pages.

4. Nominator(s):
Affiliation(s), email and postal address(es), phone number(s)