While this post is coming a bit late, I think it’s still important for me to write it. In early May, I had the privilege of attending the ACM Turing 50th Celebration Conference taking place in Shanghai, China. The purpose, as the name suggests, was to celebrate 50 years of Turing awards and to celebrate the work in computer science that is being done in China and elsewhere. There were three Turing award winners there, as well as a bunch of other ACM representatives. A picture of the conference banner appears below in which you can see pictures of some of the invited guests.

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I had never been to China, and I was impressed by their approach to conferences. They take hosting very seriously, and I was treated liked a minor celebrity. (I say minor because, as it should be, the Turing award winners and especially Vint Cerf, were clearly the major celebrities). My hosts arranged tours for me, both in Shanghai and in Chengdu, which I visited prior to the conference. They also made sure that everything I could possibly want was handled. It’s clear to me now that hosting a conference in China requires an entirely different set of skills from hosting in other countries, which was good to learn.

The conference program was great, with keynotes and panels from Turing winners as well as other notable speakers. Vint Cerf gave a keynote I enjoyed a lot on the problems associated with keeping digital information over long periods of time (picture below), but my favorite speaker was Kai-Fu Lee, someone I’m embarrassed to say I wasn’t aware of prior to this conference. He had fascinating things to say about quantum computing and computer science in general.

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I was invited as SIGCE chair, and in the process of attending the conference learned a great deal about SIGCSE China. Ming Zhang  at Peking University in Beijing is a big part of the reason that SIGCSE was one of the ACM Special Interest Groups represented at the conference. The sense of camaraderie among the attendees of the SIGCSE track was great to see, and I was impressed that they had their own banner!

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While it was a challenge to attend the conference in the middle of my spring quarter, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I’m grateful to Ming Zhang, Xi Wu (my host at Chengdu University of Information Technology), and all of the many other people who worked so hard to make the trip memorable. If you ever have a chance to attend a conference in China, don’t miss it!

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