After returning to Toulouse, I headed to the old town city center to find a cafe for dinner and do some blogging. I was waylayed a bit by a small protest march. I had no idea what it was about, but was pleased to see no sign that they were protesting against the US!
As I was standing there watching the parade pass, a younger Indian guy next to me asked (in English) what it was all about. I said that I had no idea. He said that he recognized me from my talk at the conference a couple of days ago and we started chatting. It turned out that he works for IBM Research Laboratories in Zurich and he had gotten his Ph.D at Iowa State (his name is Abu). We ended up grabbing a nearby cafe for an excellent dinner and had a long interesting conversation about technology, politics, and all sorts of subjects (there are no short dinners in France!!). Amongst others things, I was fascinated to learn that his family is part of a very small Indian Christian church that dates back to the days of St. Thomas and that he is heading to Lourdes tomorrow. It always impresses me at how well informed on both US politics and world affairs that international professionals like Abu are!
By the way, we later asked the waitress what the protest was about and she explained that it was one of the leftist parties that supported Emmanuel Macron in the recent French Presidential elections and they were now upset at his centrist politics (who could have guessed that would happen? 🙂
Today, I decided to take a day trip to visit Albi, a small city about 75km from here in Toulouse. I took the train, which took about 1.5 hours.
Albi is an ancient walled city that has a cathedral dating back to the 13th Century which is now a UNESCO world heritage site. Interestingly, it was built to be both a house of worship and a fortress against possible attack by the Pope. The only crusade that was directed at Christians was directed against the Catharism gnostic “heresy” that was centered in Albi (the “Albigensian Crusade”). As a point of trivia, it is also considered to be the largest brick building in the world (in case you’re ever asked that on Jeopardy).
(Not my picture – must have been taken from the air)
Albi has a charming old town with lots of narrow twisting streets
And a very nice museum of the art of famous local artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
Well, not exactly, but my picture did show up on the conference’s official Flickr account!
However, my co-presenters don’t seem that enthralled with my talk. 🙂
Today was the reason for my trip – to present my paper at the 20th conference of the International Foundation of Automatic Control (IFAC). I was presenting in a session to honor Rudolf Kalman who passed away last year. Kelman was a giant in the field of systems engineering and control theory and his Kalman Filter technologies revolutionized that field very quickly after his initial published paper on the topic in 1960.
This session consisted of presentations on the historical significance of Kalman’s work with all of the presenters being former Ph.D. students of Kalman. I was the exception in that my Ph.D advisor, Dr. Fumio Hamano, was a student of Kalman and I was presenting in his place. My paper is on how the engineering technologies that he pioneered have begun to be adopted in the econometrics field.
I think my presentation went well. I only had 20 minutes and had to rush at the end, but people seemed to be paying attention and I had a couple of people come up to me afterwards to discuss what I presented. This was my first presentation at an academic conference and I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are some other sessions coming up later in the week that look interesting and I’m looking forward to going back and participating further in the conference!
I estimated about 200-250 attendees at our session!
View from the back of the room before the session began
My co-presenters Pramod Khargonekar (University of California – Irvine), Yutaka Yamamoto (Kyoto University), Vladimir Kucera (Czech Tech. Univ. in Prague), and Tryphon Georgiou (University of California – Irvine)
Just cleaning up on my final posts from Paris. After my dinner on my final evening (Saturday), I decided to sample one more Paris jazz club and headed to Duc Lombards in the Rue des Lombards district which is as the location of three of the main jazz clubs. I managed to hit two out of the three during my stay plus a smaller one a few blocks away.
My overall impressions (from a grand total of three evening) of Paris jazz:
- All three evenings were enjoyable and I love the density of four respectable clubs in short walking distance of each other (LA and even NYC can’t claim that)
- Each of my three evenings were quite different in style – a light, fun, almost campy evening of jazzy pop tunes, a very impressive evening of serious and adventurous jazz from a big band, and (last night) a more traditional jazz evening of respectable straight-ahead jazz from a rotating group of instrumentalists.
- The clubs all had good atmospheres and were very reasonably priced (with low to no cover)
Overall, I don’t think it matches the diversity and quality of New York jazz, but with its density and variety of good quality offerings, Paris is truly a great jazz city. In terms of venues and offerings, it is way head of Los Angeles!
Arrived around 9:30PM last night after a pleasant high-speed train ride and walked the block or so from the train station to my hotel. I woke up early this morning before the alarm and am eating breakfast and doing some more preparation for my talk, which is at 10:20AM this morning. Wish me luck!
Currently traveling at over 300 km/hour on the high-speed train from Paris to Toulouse. The train ride takes just a little over four hours so I should arrive around 9:00PM and it looks like my hotel is a short walk from the train station.
The train ride has been a good chance to mentally rehearse my talk for tomorrow.
Last post about Chez Robert et Louise – promise!
Just want to post a picture of my new best friend in Paris, Francois, owner of Chez Robert et Louise