Category Archives: Silly

Type of French lady with compiler for high level programming language. (4)

Cryptic crossword with a theoretical computer science theme. Enjoy!



1 14d Bank managing a museum exhibiting bad art? (7,10)
5 17d Smooth ways of talking, readily accepted. (7,9)
9 Number system used around the end of the year? (3)
10 Kept by virtuous diarists and, one hopes, research libraries even after cutbacks. (4,7)
11 Headless monsters may be off by one. (6)
12 Repository hosting 18 down introductions explaining semantics and verification. (4)
13 King’s writ, maybe a quill. (2)
16 Good idea when checking if string argument has zero length; otherwise result oft not OK when k goes left. (4,3,4,3)
19 Cunningly silences top men in foundations of mathematics, such as Gödel’s most important contribution. (14)
21 God is in the particulars more than in the details. (2)
22 Architecture sounds like a gamble. (4)
24 Plutoniom store added on top of the others. (6)
27 Arbitrary model in statistical mechanics often improves bound on worst-case behaviour, at least in expectation. (11)
28 Apply resolution to a Horn clause. (3)
29 Author of election scheme and determinant 3 down (following 6 down) and connoisseur of acrostics did often draft good stories on nonsense! (7)
30 The simplest sets, i.e., a partial order. (7)

1 Go from place to place in the pursuit of pleasure to understand a complicated construction in an NP-hardness reduction. (6)
2 8 Frequently visiting mother-in-law, for instance, can be a difficult challenge. (10,8)
3 Preparing for the oral might be a good strategy. (9)
4 Very long narrative in retrospect sounds like the specification of a structured information exchange protocol for web services. (4)
5 About first Java class compiled at even update. (10)
6 German summer takes the edges off temper, laid back. (5)
7 Favourite reference in many lists: My name is Bond. (4)
8 See 2 down.
14 See 1 across.
15 Building with supplies for Spooner’s unique key partner, where tea is served for a penny. (5,5)
17 See 5 across.
18 Becomes partly colder or rimed when applied to itself. (8)
20 Development to release after many years. (6)
23 First person to attach the head to statues. (5)
25 Where most computational geometry problems are easily solved, e.g., done by convolution. (3,1)
26 Type of French lady with compiler for high level programming language developed by the US Department of Defence. (4)

Fransk antropolog bor ude i u-vending (8)

PDF-version: no20


1 Luftig dessert bliver uden side i presse. (6)
5 Forvirret genkalde Hannas Glawaris ægtestand. (4,4)
9 Fransk antropolog bor ude i u-vending. (8)
10 Kattejammer?! (6)
11 Resultatlønnet beskæftigelse, fx for rytmeguitarister? (13)
13 Ignorer hver anden artikel, engelsk digter og forfatter. (6)
15 Hvor land bygges i orkesteret. (8)
17 Fx tillægsord, der ender på trykstærk vokal, lader sig ikke overtale. (8)
19 Handelsskoleelev omvendes til en for eliten. (6)
20 Anetes myntete, omrørt, indeholder mange blade. (3,10)
24 Ord i jantelov er berømte. (6)
25 Lave hul bag smykke for person som er blevet forført til at indlede et kærlighedsforhold. (8)
26 27 Herkules i en stridsvogn i opløftet og euforisk stemning. (4,4,2,4)
27 Se 26 vandret.


2 Mærkelig zoo nordpå producerer giftgas. (4)
3 Tekstiler for små størrelser og intelligenskvotienter. (5)
4 Enkeltstående begivenhed i højtideligt digt, først fortællende men uden jambisk slutning. (7)
5 Kaj Munk og Søren Kirkegaard og andre: giv nu riget oprør! (15)
6 Leder for meteorologisk institut i centralasiatisk sø. (7)
7 Holde af elektrisk bestik. (5)
8 Beruset? Drik dyrere, fx kakao og anis. (10)
12 Mad med mange kulhydrater er . . . og andre sportsudøvere og kriminelle. (10)
14 Lingeri, måske skjult i blufærdigt øjeblik. (3)
16 Falde i ens smag for hovedbeklædning. (3)
18 Glad og optimistisk gruppe i forstad til Aarhus. (7)
19 Det meste af trosbekendelsen til pige som husede mange instrumentmagere. (7)
21 En halv snes nederlag for besat land. (5)
22 Stork flyver og svømmer i Atlanterhavet. (5)
23 Kan skimte forfædre. (4)

Make 28 June Perfect Day

I plan to commemorate the upcoming Hobbit Day by reading my still-unopened hardcover edition of Children of Húrin. But then it struck me: we went through all of August without a single nerdy day. In fact, several months find themselves bereft of well-established dates to signal your obsession or social awkwardness.

What we have

Pi Day, celebrated 14 March, and so named because the decimal expansion of the mathematical constant pi begins with 3.14. Amazingly, there is a resolution by the US Congress that actually “supports the designation of a ‘Pi Day’ and its celebration around the world” [H.RES. 224 at Library of Congress] The date also coincides with Albert Einstein’s birthday, which makes it even cooler.

Star Trek Day, celebrated 5 April, commemorates First Contact with the Vulcans. There is an alternative day commemorating the first airing of a Star Trek episode, but I don’t like out-of-universe explanations. 5 April it is.

Star Wars Day, celebrated on 4 May because the phrase “May the force be with you” can be misheard as “May the 4th”. (This mishearing apparently really happened to a simultaneous interpreter on German TV in 2005, see Wikipedia. Learn something new each day.)

Geek Pride Day is celebrated on 25 May, though seems to be only sporadically observed. It unifies several geeky days, including Towel Day for Hitchhiker fans. Look it up.

Pi Approximation Day is celebrated 22 July, since 22/7 (in the day/month format) is a well-known approximation of pi. Of course, 3.14 is also just an approximation, and only ever so slightly closer to the real (ahem, irrational) value of pi than the fraction 22/7. But “Pi Approximation Day” and “Slightly worse pi approximation day” doesn’t have the popular appeal.

Hobbit Day is celebrated somewhere around 12 September. It commemorates Bilbo’s and Frodo’s birthday, and due to delicious discrepancies between the fictional Shire calender and the Gregorian calender, the actual date is a matter of entertaining and serious debate among the cognoscenti. Just as we like it. It’s as good a day as any to discuss whether Balrogs have wings. (They don’t.)

Mole Day is celebrated on 23 October, preferably at 6:02. This gives 6:02 10/23 in some time format, mimicking the value of Avogradro’s constant 6.02×1023. I don’t like that the solidus in 10/23 is used to denote exponentiation, but it’s a day for chemists anyway. Chemists don’t do rigour.

These are good days to connect with your inner nerd, geek, or scientist. Or just have some pie. But it leaves several months of the calendar completely empty! Except for some years, where there could be a lucky hit from Square Root Day, which falls on 4 April 2016 next. (4.4.16. Get it?)

What we need

Here are some suggestions:

E-Day on 2 July. Not very inventive, I’m afraid, merely mimicking pi day with only a single digit in the decimal expansion. But e is at least as interesting number than pi, except for the pie. We could call it Napier’s or Euler’s day instead of E-Day. Or natural logarithm day? Activity: learn to use a slide rule. Hm…

Imaginary Day. This idea is only half-baked and came up over lunch. The idea is to celebrate Imaginary Day on 28+iy mod 4 February in year y. In leap years, this is 29 February, the leap day. Two years later and before, Imaginary Day is celebrated 27 February. In the remaining years the day is in fact imaginary (since we don’t have complex valued dates), but I propose to project the date on the real axis and celebrate 28 February. You would use Imaginary Day to learn about complex arithmetic and reconnect with your imaginary friends.

Turing Day celebrates Turing’s birthday on 23 June. Alternatively, we could take two days earlier: on 21 June 1948, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (“Baby”) ran the first stored program. This implements Turing’s universal machine, envisioned in his 1936 paper.

Perfect Day. I’m a little bit proud of this idea. I suggest to celebrate it on 28 June, the only date in the year where both counters are perfect numbers; 6 and 28. And Perfect Day just sounds like a, well, perfect day. Make it extra special for yourself or somebody else.

Programmer’s Christmas. This idea is not mine, but since 31 October is 25 December to programmers. (Programmers are used to think in the octal number system, and 31 in octal (or, OCT) equals 25 in decimal (or, DEC). Hilarious, at least before I explained it.) Unfortunately, it’s in October, where we already have Mole Day.

This still leaves several months wide open. Should we really celebrate Unix new year on 1 January? Any ideas for August, November, December?

Quotable Me

Computer Sweden, 19 Aug 2011, page 2.

A Swedish colleague made me aware that I am featured in some kind of quote of the week in Swedish IT newspaper Computer Sweden.

On du utnyttjar en tjänst som du inte behöver betala för är det inte du som är kunden, då är det du som är varan.

Now, in the words of Alexander Smith, to be occasionally quoted is the only fame I care for, so I’m really happy. This is a step in the right direction towards a meaty, forthcoming collection of Thore’s Best Aphorisms or The Quotable Husfeldt or something like that.

(In fact, the quote doesn’t sound like very good Swedish to me. Seeing something you said quoted is strange already. Seeing something you said in your fourth language is even stranger.)

The quote must come from a recent interview with Svenska Dagbladet inspired by the filter bubble, and is aimed at Google’s business model. It goes without saying that there are plenty of free IT products, in particular from the open source community, that don’t view me as a product. Syntactic awkwardness and quibbles of generality aside, I think it’s a good quote.

In the words of Monty Python’s Oscar Wilde sketch, I wish I had said it.

Here’s the source:

If you’re not paying for something, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.

The quote opens chapter 1 of Eli Pariser’s book The Filter Bubble and is attributed to Andrew Lewis, under the handle blue_beetle. Much pithier. In fact, the quoted website gives the quote as “[…] paying for it […]”.

(Of course, Wilde probably already said it a century ago, and even better.)

Motivation for 2010

Log Factors. “A goal is a dream with a deadline.” — Napoleon Hill
2009 was a great year, both for our research group and for theoretical computer science in general, with important new conferences like SLOGN. I firmly believe in the power of good leadership through positive thinking, so in that spirit I have leveraged my considerable artistic talent at a motivational poster. Happy new year!

[High-resolution PDF version.]

The original image is from Wikimedia Commons, which implies that the poster itself is released under the same CC-AS license.