Thursday, May 18, 2006



I've been in Paris for 6 days now. My schedule has been
rather hectic, I've had weird jet lag, and no internet until
yesterday, so I've been mostly out of contact with my family
and friends. Sorry for this.


I live in a college dormatory on the south border of the
city called Cite Universitaire. My room is fine. There's a
little bathroom, a little fridge, a little desk, a little
nightstand, and a little bed. Well, pretty much everything
else is little as well. My address, for those dying to send
me care packages and postcards is:

Sean McLaughlin
Cite Universitaire
Fondation Victor Lyon Chambre 004
29 Bld Jourdan
75014 Paris

I think there are some accents on some of the letters, but I
can never remember where they go. I think the zip code and
street are enough, though, so I wouldn't worry about that.


I have a phone on which I can receive incoming calls, but
outgoing calls are rather expensive, so I'll stick to Skype
as long as I can. The number is
or at work
I'm at work between about 10 and 7.


I work at a computer science research lab called Inria which
stands for Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et
Automatique. (One nice thing about French, unlike
Hungarian, is many times you can kind of figure out what the
words mean, as in this case.) The lab (one of Inria's 9) is located in
Orsay, a southern suburb. I take a train and a bus to get
there, which usually takes about 40 minutes. The lab is run
by Gerard Huet, the famous logician and computer scientist.

I work with Georges Gonthier,
who recently proved the Four Color Theorem in the Coq
theorem prover. He's been great to work with. I'll be
formalizing basic Galois theory in Coq this summer. His
eventual goal is, in the long run, the classification of
finite simple groups. This is a heroic undertaking of a
10K+ page collection of difficult group theory. He's
beginning with the Feit-Thompson theorem, which states that
any finite group of odd order is solvable. His wife is
a piano teacher, and I'm playing the Schumann Fantasy Pieces
with her in a concert next month.

Jet lag

Today is the first day I woke up to daylight. It was very
exciting. My sleep schedule for the last week has been roughly:
Bed by 9, awake at 2, back to sleep at 6, awake at 8 or 9.
I slept from 9:30 until 5:30 today. Almost normal!


(Warning: this section replete with cliches)
Paris is beautiful. Even apartment buildings in residential
districts often have architecturally interesting features.
There are old stone and bronze buildings and monuments
everywhere. The city is not large in area, but somehow
walking the couple miles from Notre Dame to the Louvre feels like
10, there is so much to experience. I haven't been in the
Louvre yet, but I am stunned by it's raw size. My first
estimate was 5 Metripolitan Museums, but I'm not sure how
accurate that is. It's strange to see a building so large
which has such ornate detail throughout. The Pei pyramid is
splendid, with a charming spiral staircase inside.

There's some modern architecture as well, though I haven't
seen much. The Bastille opera house is modern, though not
terribly interesting. It pales to the National
Opera house, which was in my high school art history book.

The people are generally very nice and helpful. I was
surprised by this, as everyone told me how curt they are
with foreigners. Perhaps it's because I'm usually not in
heavily touristy areas. Many speak a little English, but
few are fluent, which has been a problem. I did manage to
find a grocery store, open a bank account (not easy) and
find a store with the electronic supplies necessary to
charge my laptop and connect to the internet. I don't say
much in these situations, but it usually works out OK.
To find the bank I was led around the block by an old lady
who could understand what I needed to find, but didn't speak

I tried to start French classes yesterday, but while the
classes started at 8, the registration closed at 6, so I
went to sleep instead. I think I will make an effort to
learn French, despite my pile of work I need to do, both for
Gonthier, Pfenning and old dodecahedral revisions ((sigh)).

The weather has been lovely so far.


  1. Anonymous3:50 AM

    What happened to Pitures of Nelsons Quarry? its got to be the greatest place in the USA to get stoned and play all night long.
    similar to the mid sixtys love rules in the quite of the night as you take a draw off a nice pipe filled with some colombian Red Bud
    nothing is nice than to be relaxed in a place you feel at home doing what ever and with who ever you two chose to do ayeeeeeeeeeeeee

  2. learning any french ?
    gone to the monuments ?
    museums, roland garros for tennis is approaching

  3. The Pei pyramid is something like the new Bosnian pyramidd. Have you see that?