Mathematicians and computer scientists celebrated Donald Knuth in Piteå

2018-01-29

In January, the world star and TeX creator Donald Knuth turned 80. Due to his birthday, mathematicians and computer scientists from several universities arranged a conference in Piteå. In connection with the conference, his organ composition Fantasia Apocalyptica had its world premiere.

Svante Janson at the conference
(photo: Anders Öberg)

- The conference was very successful, both scientifically with many excellent lectures by world-leading researchers, and practically, in every way, says Svante Janson and continues:

- I was in the organizing committee, and I hired Anders Öberg and Sofie White, who together arranged almost everything in Piteå except the organ concert, so it was a big relief for me that everything worked.

You also gave a talk at the conference. What was it about?

- I chose to talk about random permutations. Because Don Knuth has a large scientific width, there was also a wide range of participants, and most of the audience was probably computer savvy rather than mathematicians. I therefore tried to keep it on a fairly clear and easy-to-understand level, while speaking of some of my newer research results, including some I have not yet written down.

How did it go?

- I thought it went well. The response was, as usual, not very high-keyed. I received some interesting comments and questions, but it's hard to know what the rest of the audience thought.

Donald Knuth (photo: Alex Handy)

One of those who arranged the conference and made sure everything worked at the location was Anders Öberg. He shares his thoughts:

- It was a good and star-studded conference, with several big names. In addition to Donald Knuth himself and some celebrities in computer science, some very famous mathematicians such as Persia Diaconis and Richard Stanley participated. I myself thought that the most exciting person was Ron Graham, who used to be the Chief Scientist at Bell Labs. I think that he gave the best talk. I have even started reading one of his books on Ramsey theory!

- It worked well to be in Piteå. The town offered nice winter weather and everything worked without any major organizational problems. Piteå turned out to be well equipped to have a big and friendly conference. It was also fun for me who went to high school there a long time ago.

Donald Knuth also visited Uppsala after the conference and gave a lecture in Siegbahnsalen. Over 300 people attended.

Read more:

Dagens Nyheter

Valentina Chapovalova's blog

Conference Page

Fantasia Apocalyptica