FOCS 2010 is held at the Monte Carlo hotel in Las Vegas (yay randomized algorithms jokes!), which is next to the City Center, an unfortunately timed new development with a beautifully designed hotel, condos, and a shopping center with all the usual expensive firms (Hermes, Prada, LV, …) and some remarkable ones (Balenciaga!). The architecture is playful, modern and tasteful, the scale is rather grand, everything is very clean. I surprise myself thinking, this looks like Asia.

Talking about which, I finally found a place where coffee is more expensive than in Beijing: $3+ for an espresso at Starbucks.

Ketan Mulmuley did a great job with his tutorial. Even I, that knew nothing whatsoever about his program to proving circuit lower bounds via algebraic geometry and representation theory, got quite a bit out of it.

At night, I take a cab with another theoretician. “We are going to Double Down.” “You know” says the driver “you have to be careful around there.” “Careful? is it an unsafe area?” “No, no, it’s just that Double Down is the only bar in that area that…” The driver gives a good look at the two us in the rearview mirror and starts again: “… All the other bars in the area are for the ‘alternative lifestyle’…” He gives us another look. “Unless that’s what you are looking for… Which is cool… But then don’t go to Double Down, because it’s the only straight bar over there.” I want to explain to him that my friend is not gay, he is just Israeli, but we have arrived and we’ll have to have that conversation another time.

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