Sunday, May 21, 2006


On Monday I gave my talk on pseudorandomness and combinatorial constructions, and the whole Taiwanese complexity theory community showed up, all six of them. They are working on my favorite problems, like amplification of hardness, seedless extractors, locally decodable codes, unique games and so on, and we had a good discussion after the talk.

On Tuesday, Chi-Jen took me to see the Palace Museum, that contains Chinese decorative art and calligraphy including extremely old pieces. This is mostly objects that the fleeing Kuomingtan people took with them when they fled from mainland China. Much destruction of art and antiquitities went on during the Cultural Revolution, and so taking these pieces out of the country actually saved them.

Taipei is not a city of architectural wonders, but it has a few beautiful temples. The one I saw is very close to a domestic airport.

I spent the afternoon in Danshui, a pleaant neighborhood by the river.

We got there around 5pm, just when the schoolkids where returning home, and people were coming back from the offices, the night market had just opened, and the place was quite alive. In the middle of all this, someone was practicing calligraphy on the street.

In Danshui, I saw the only funny sign of this trip.

And the thing is, this was for a parking spot in a designated parking area for scooters. The same in Taipei, designated parking areas for scooters have a few spots reserved for the disabled. I have to say, it looks a bit bizarre: a disabled person riding a scooters? Indeed, there are three-wheeled scooters that are driven by people that walk with difficulty. (They are not at all like the small electric ones that are used in America, these ones have regular internal-combustion engines, and they are definitely not meant to be used indoors.)

Finally, this store in Danshui had the most arresting name.


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