ISIT : plenaries and thoughts

Just a few brief notes on the plenaries. Prakash Narayan gave a nice talk on his work on secrecy generation and related problems. It was nice because it tied together a number of different models in one talk so that if you were someone who had only looked at wiretap problems you could see a more unified approach to these problems. It was a little technical for my pre-breakfast brain though. Ueli Maurer gave an overview of his new approach to cryptography — I had seen a version of this before, and it was full of pictures to illustrate the reductions and interfaces he was trying to create. I think if I had more of a background in formal CS-style cryptography I might have understood it a bit better. It feels like trying to build a different style of bridge between theory (formal reasoning about security) and practice.

Abbas El Gamal gave a rather personal Shannon Lecture, taking us through a number of stages in his research life, together with some perspectives on his new book with Young-Han Kim on network information theory. He ended by calling for the IT community to really go and tackle new problems and develop new tools and models to do that. One of the things that came across more sharply for me in this ISIT, partly due to the Cover memorial, is that information theory really is a research community. Of course, there are groups and cliques and politics and problems, but each ISIT is a real coming together that reinforces that sense of community. That’s valuable.

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