On MIT's LCS at the mid 1980's
Oded Goldreich [March 2004]
The following was sent in response to a call for stories
regarding MIT's LCS
(on the occation of its move to a new building).
I did not follow all correspondence in this "column",
but my impression is that earlier periods
(say, late 70's, all of the 80's and early 90's)
are not well represented.
Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to redeem the situation
(wrt mid 80's) by recalling the dozens stories from
my post-doc period at LCS (1983-86), let alone that most
of these stories seem inadequate for such a wide circulation.
(A boring thing that I am willing to say is that my post-doc period at LCS
has shaped my entire professional life, and thus much of my entire life.)
To give you an idea of the atmosphere at LCS at the time,
let me recall a few of the common activities:
Let me end with one story. (It is the palest story I recall...)
At the time I used to dress in a way that was considered weird.
(This may still be true nowadays, but only because the dressing code
has became even more strict.) Anyhow, when I left at 1986,
Silvio held a Goodbye Party, featuring an "Oded Dress-alike Competition"
and awarded the first prize to ... Tom (who was conspicuously the most
formally dressed one...).
- Bike-racing against the clock around the floor.
(Record: myself, 1 second, by a mental experiment.)
- Water-gun fights (winner: Baruch Awerbuch, most enduring).
- Getting the longest deadline-extension from the FOCS/STOC PC chair.
(Record: 2 weeks held by ... guess who.)
This activity was abruptly terminated by Tom,
who as PC chair introduced the notion of a strict deadline.
- Achieving the most harmonious atmosphere among office-mates.
(Record held by Boris Trachtenbrot and myself, with Boris
leaving the office by 3PM and me never arriving before 3PM.)
- Fastest written FOCS/STOC submission. (I mean writing, not research...)
(Record of a couple of hours held by Shafi, Silvio and Ron
for their 1984 Paradoxical Signature Scheme paper.
Recommendation for those attempting to break the record:
get Ron to write the paper!)
With best wishes for entry into the new "home",
pictures from the aforementioned party.
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