Sunday, July 13, 2008

SWAT - Day 1

A bit late but here's a short summary of SWAT day 1:

I'm in Gothenburg attending SWAT 2008. I haven't been in Gothenburg since I was a kid but it's a beautiful city this time of the year. Due to the long and warm summer evening there are heaps of people everywhere. Apart from SWAT there's also the worlds largest youth handball tournament going on with 900 teams from all around the world.

The local organisers of SWAT seem to have everything under control. I don't have to worry about anything (except a nasty cold). The first day included some very nice talks. John Hershberger gave the first talk of the conference, "Simplified planar coresets for data streams" which gives a simple way of producing coresets for computing the extent of a point set in the plane. He (and Subhash Suri) combined several known techniques with a few nice ideas to obtain an optimal size coreset.
Another talk I enjoyed was on placing wireless devices in an internet cafe such that customers inside the cafe can be distinguished from people outside the cafe. The talk was given by Tobias Christ and they show that for a simple polygon with n vertices 3n/5 devices is sometimes necessary and that 4n/5 is always sufficient.

Vijay Vazirani gave a great invited talk on the relation between Nash bargaining and flexible markets. I don't know the area very well but Vijay gave a very good survey focussing on the fact that some of these problems can be stated as a convex program which can be shown to have a rational optimal solution which can be solved in polynomial time by using primal-dual techniques.

After the technical program there was a business meeting where various issues were discussed (more on that in an upcoming post), followed by a reception at the city hall (provided by the city of Gothenburg) and the PC dinner (for details of what was discussed see Michael's post).

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