Friday September 17th

The week of leaderboards

This week was a week of leaderboards

  • I attended CHES this week, for bits of time, as the conference basically started at 2am and ended around 5am-ish. I mostly attended the post-quantum cryptography talks, the Test of Time award talk and the AMA with Tanja. I’ve met Tanja before, both in our sessions for our summer school, and there were lots of other familiar faces from our community too. In fact, one of the persons who led the Rump session was just, 2 hours before, hosting a Q&A with us, where he noted that the 4 of us who dropped in at 3am to attend were “the most hardcore group of isogenists”. That was quite kind of him! It is true that there is a general group of us that attends more or less all of the sessions. And then, there are others, who are specifically interested in things that tie in directly with what they are researching, such as torsion point attacks and that sort of thing. So it’s been interesting attending most of the sessions and seeing who pops in, and who is a regular.
  • I have to say, though, that most are in Europe, and I am usually dying going to class just a few hours later. This week in particular, I happened to attend either CHES or the isogeny workshops (or both!) at 3 or 4 in the morning, get up at 7 or 8 and head to class for 10am. And it’s fine, but I definitely just wipe out mid-afternoon, and have to get up later in the evening to get started on work. So it’s wrecked a bit of my “normal” schedule (if ever I had one!).
  • This upcoming week is our last week. It’s so sad! I’ve enjoyed it SO much! I’m an isogenist to the core now :(
  • I also met up with my friend, and it was AWESOME!!!! I’m going to miss hanging out with her, but there’s always online, and maybe I’ll be in her state soon :)

Notes and more notes

  • I’ve kept an extensive collection of notes throughout the isogenies workshop, including pdfs, some of which are downloaded, and others which have direct links, and a giant Google doc that has about 104 pages worth of notes (I’m not kidding; I just counted). I also have a fair amount of Sage code (over 150 lines), too. I’m still working through some of the exercises, and there is enough to keep me busy, but I am really energized by this community. It’s awesome. This week, I also saw some Magma code, which, as my advisor said, even though it doesn’t look too different, is annoying to go back and forth between. So it looks like I’ll stick with Sage for now.
  • Next week there’s a super awesome TWO hour long talk that three isogenists are giving, but I’ll miss a bit of it because I happened to book a massage during then. Crazy, huh? What timing lol. I am going to be able to make some of it, though, and I’m super excited, as I’ve already read some of the work from one of the authors presenting. In fact, it was one of the first papers I had read on the topic (I had also attended SPACE, and saw them give a talk at that conference, which is uncanny)!


  • I attended a Lisp talk related to ChiaLisp, and Bram was there, along with another individual named Richard. That was pretty cool, because it ended with people in our group looking at lisp compiler code. The group was really welcoming and wonderful; I haven’t visited in years, since Peter Norvig gave a talk there (which was probably quite a few years ago! And I think they gained over 200 new members for that one meeting!). I am still a member and check out their Meetups from time to time, and at one point, I even had their Meetup sticker on my laptop.

Crypto and Hacking

  • As a troll, I got into CHES early enough that only Kevin had scored a point on the puzzle (he either usually makes them or posts them, along with Ray), and was able to bump myself up to first place :)

I also took part in a WISP Hacking event

  • It was a lot of fun. I stayed for both the 1st night and the second, where I was able to get up to 2nd place on the leaderboard!

  • The vulnerabilities were super fun to find! Some entailed ciphers, which are sort of my favourite thing to crack (okay, maybe not “sort of”).
  • I was silly and accidentally added the salted hash to a decoded password, which was funny when I realized my mistake!

Number Theory

  • As it turns out, I got funding to attend the Number Theory conference in mid-October, so I’ll definitely be attending! My advisor is even possibly going to see if I can definitely stay for most of the event, so if I do, I’ll be sure to make a post about it!
  • Oh, and this week, I also attended an awesome Combinatorics event by my friend, Calum! There will be more, and I intend to attend every week! His advisor is one of my professors this semester, and she’s already been trying to convince me to take Combinatorics classes with her :)


  • I hung out with my zk mentor (who is finishing up his PhD), and participated in the last session of a stats R bookclub I took for fun. It’s so crazy to see how just taking part in both experiences really made me hone in on what I want to do. And all of those experiences really enriched my time and experience, too.
  • Oh, I met a super cool person from a lab today, and am excited about pursuing some of the possible avenues for next year, should I choose to pursue an internship. If I do, it will be one that is explicitly research, or I just won’t do one at all, and will work exclusively with my advisor during summer. So we’ll see.

Anyways, that’s about it

Written on September 17, 2021