I’ll give Philadelphia the benefit of the doubt and say that the smell was due to the uncommon heat and humidity that the city (and much of the east coast) has been suffering through. Inside conditions were dry, odorless, and with air conditioning only a polar bear could love. This was my physical experience of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation COnference last week.
The mental experience was quite different. I went as a spectator, with no paper to present. I met a lot of great people and enjoyed talking to them about research, though when asked about my own research, I mostly talked about program repair, which I don’t feel like I have ownership of yet.
Listening to the talks lead me to consider how far apart theory felt from application. The considerable amount of knowledge neglected due to the other, more immediately important, difficulties involved in application. The difficulty in understanding the theory, and how I could acquire the requisite background.
I most enjoyed the workshop on Understanding Problems, which, in case you can’t tell by the exceedingly general title, is about how to best choose an optimization algorithm when given a problem. I found the talks to be understandable and a nice mixture of theoretical work and practical application.
But much of my time was spend thinking about where I’m going with my research. No answers were forthcoming.