Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Restaurants in Jerusalem

May 31st, 2011 No comments

The Algorithmic Game Theory Semester in Jerusalem has been amazing – made a lot of good friends and learned many interesting things. Now, ready to go back to the US, I feel I should share a bit about nice places to go in Jerusalem. Together with Vasilis Syrgkanis, I decided to compile a list of good restaurants, cafes, … specially a list of places open in shabbat (which is quite useful for the visitor).

My Favourite Restaurants

  • Machne-yuda : Next to the Mahane Yehuda market, the restaurant menu changes everyday (with a couple of dishes which are always there). The food is whatever is in that day in the market. Everything was perfect both times I went. I strongly recommend the polenta and the black risotto. We took almost 1 month to make a reservation and eventually we got one. Eventually we learned a nice trick – if you arrive there very late (say aroud midnight), it is not impossible to get a table (we got one in the bar right away, arriving at 11:30pm). Elisa Celis suggested this place, and I think Omer Reingold suggested it to her.
  • Chakra : There is a tasting menu that is amazing. It is around 160 NIS, but worth every cent. It started with chicken livers, salads, calamari, ceviche, shrimp (the shrimp was awesome), fish kebab and mussels. After the fish part ended, they brought us many meat dishes, like a beef strogonoff (I am still puzzled by how soft the meat was), lamb chops and beef kebab. It ended with a simple, yet perfect, chocolate dessert and ice-cream with tahina. Thanks to Shahar Dobzinski and Sigal Oren for the suggestion.
  • Carousella: It is a small restaurant in the corner of the street I used to live in Jerusalem (it is located in the corner of Azza and Metudela in Rehavia). It is a vegetarian French/Israeli restaurant and has my favorite shakshouka in town – it is actually a mix o shakshouka and ratatouille. I also like very much their risotto. We used to have breakfast/brunch there quite a lot – usually getting either the shakshouka or the musli. The house cake is definitely recommended too… It is my favourite place to work (they have wifi and a nice record player and a huge collection of records). Thanks to Omer Tamuz for this suggestion.

Hummus Places

  • Lina: It is known as the best hummus in the city (some claim the best hummus in the world). It is located in the Via Dolorosa and not hard to find. Arriving in the Via Dolorosa, you can just ask directions and everyone knows. Everything is recommended.
  • From Gaza to Berlin: is a small and super cheap restaurant in Rehavia – their hummus is very tasty (specially the hummus with meat), the kubbeh soup is very nice and their falafel is famous around here.
  • Marvad Haksamim (The Magic Carpet): a very nice arabic place – great bread, hummus, …  The soups are very good (I tried the lentil and the kubeh soup) and the meat is usually good as well. I tried the chopped livers and the kebab. The Mixed Jerusalem Grill is a famous plate, I guess.

Places to eat/work on shabbat: on Saturday and Friday night most of the things in the city are closed, so it is good to know some places to go:

  • Restobar: good food and generally open
  • Zuni: very nice and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Has every type of meal (brunch, lunch, coffee, drinks), served all the time. Good for working too…
  • Mona: a very cool American/Israeli restaurant inside a former art school. Food is very good and has also a very nice bar.
  • Spaguettim: nice location, wifi, good coffee and snacks. I never tried the food, though.
  • many places on Hillel Street: for example the Iwo Meat Burger (a pretty good non-kosher burger place), the pizza place next to it and a couple of bars nearby

In the old city

  • Cheese pie: I don’t know how to give an exact location, but this should help you: very near to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City, you can find the Coptic Patriarchate. Try to locate the stairs leading to the Patriarchate and before going up, there is a place that sells only one thing: a cheese pie. There is a big marble table and a man with a bowl of dough, some cheese and syrup. He prepares everything in front of you and then puts it in the oven. It takes around 20 minutes. It is very impressive.
  • Armenian Tavern: a very beautiful place hidden in the old city. Food is nice  (the lemonade is very refreshing and tastes great) but the better thing is the feeling that you are dining inside a museum.

Hotel Bars and Cafes

  • Mamilla Terrace: the restaurant in the terrace of Mamilla Hotel is pretty nice and has a good view of the old city. It is a good place to go for drinks as well. It is closed (I think) on shabbat.
  • Notre Dame Terrace: the Notre Dame hotel has also a great view to the Temple Mount and pretty nice food. It is very relaxing to sit there and look the old city. There is another restaurant in the hotel called La Rotisserie, which I very much appreciated. It is also open on shabbat.

In Tel Aviv

  • Raphael: inside the Dan Hotel and overlooking the sea. Most of the times I went to Tel Aviv I ended up eating there.
  • Boya: Thanks to Lior Seeman for this suggestion. We had many small dishes (something like tapas) and all were amazing. I think it was my favourite place in Tel Aviv.
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Programming and Storytelling

August 21st, 2009 No comments

Recently I looked in Papadimitriou’s website looking for something else and found this great article called: “MythematiCS: In Praise of Storytelling in the Teaching of Computer Science and Math”. He begins by pointing out the in early times knowledge was transferred mostly by storytelling – and there is much more place in contemporary technical teaching to storytelling than most of people realize. He has several interesting points: one of them is that we can think of writting a computer program as telling a story. For example, the variables are the characters: they have characteristics (data types) and the whole story (program) is about playing around with them. Sometimes they have multiple faces and behaviors depending on the circumstance (polymorphism). Iteration and recursion are common literary tools, used for example in fairy tales “in the first day, this happens, in the second day, that happens, then…” or “he might be able to do that just if he does that…”. He mentions one of my favourite books: “If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler” as a great example of recursion. This made me think that maybe Italo Calvino is my favourite author because his stories are so beautifully constructed in an almost mathematical fashion – like an Escher paiting or  Bach music. They went very far in showing the beauty of math and showing it is really one art. For example, this beautiful representation of the hyperbolic plane:


Back to programming there are still a lot of interesting relations: several novels are multi-threaded. We look at the novels from perspectives of multiple characters. Stories also need to “compile and run”, which in this case mean, make sense and be accepted by people. I was thinking that there are a lot of books which everyone knows about but very few people have ever read (Ulisses, for example). Are those NP-complete problems?

Back to Papadimitriou’s article, he talks about a few interesting books that do a good job in mixing together math and stories. One that he mentions I read a long time ago, still when I was in high-school and it did a great job in further stimulating me on math. The book was The Parrot’s Theorem. Recently I also read one other book that he mentioned: Surreal Numbers, by Don Knuth. Although I am a great fan of almost everything Knuth writes, this book didn’t caught me much. I think it may be because I am not the right audience. If I read it a couple of years back I might have enjoyed it much more.

When I was in Greece last year, I came across this very interesting comic book: Logicomix. It was in Greek but just by looking into it I figured out it was something about math and it seemed pretty cool. Later I found out this was written by Papadimitriou and Doxiadis, which made me even more curious to read it. Now I am waiting the English translation of it. One last pointer: Doxiadis has a webpage with some interesting essays about the relations of mathematical proofs, computer programming and storytelling.

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MythematiCS: (1)

In Praise of Storytelling in the Teaching of
Computer Science and Math

The Obligatory Hello World!

June 3rd, 2009 No comments

We decided to do this a few weeks ago. Hopefully this will help us materialize and share some of our thoughts with others.

So here it goes:

printf("Hello World!\n");
System.out.println("Hello, World!");
Console.WriteLine("Hello, World!");
print "Hello World!"
puts "Hello World!"

And for testing LaTeX, some operator everyone loves:

(\lambda x.(x x) \quad \lambda x.(x x) )
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