News and Events: Projects and Awards

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Paul Vitanyi knighted in the order of the "Nederlandse Leeuw"

On Friday the 7th there was a special ceremony at CWI in honor of Paul Vitanyi. Paul is one of the great theoretical computer scientists of our time and the CWI thought it was time that this was officially recognized. In a very entertaining afternoon session three famous mathematicians/computer scientists gave a talk more or less related to Paul's work. Hendrik Lenstra---dubbed "the Johan Cruijff of mathematics" by the chairman of the day, Harry Buhrman, who by the way gave a very amusing and insightful introduction of every speaker and was responsible for a very smooth organization---spoke about the Lattice Bases Reduction (LLL) algorithm. Lenstra referred several times to his "Johan Cruijff" status (being world famous, yet not dead) during his talk.

Turing award winner Andy Chi Chi Yao gave a talk on probabilistically checkable proofs and their relation to the internet and founder of NP-completeness theory Leonid Levin spoke about a loophole in Goedel's theorem and the relation to Kolmogorov Complexity. At 16:30 the meeting was formally ended. Yet the organizers had one more surprise up their sleeves. Alderman Hennah Buine was weeled in by two escort officials to give a final speech. She eloquently described Paul's life in general, his relation to Ming Li and his contribution to Kolmogorov complexity. At the end of her speech Paul was knighted. Paul was awarded knighthood in the order of the "Nederlandse Leeuw", which is the highest ranking decoration that is not military. The Nederlandse Leeuw is awarded for personal achievements and is considered more valuable than other rankings awarded for contributions to society.

For a scientist to be awarded such honor (not being dead) some may have expected Paul to saying his goodbyes. That however is as far from the truth as anything. Paul is still very much at work and as productive as he has ever been. The best is yet to come!

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