Hacking Conference Offices

I am writing this from Florence during the most exciting trip I've been able to take as a part of grad school. I was fortunate enough that a 7 week workshop in conformal field theory that made a lot of sense for me to attend, chose a beautiful city in a country I had yet to visit. Travelling to surrounding areas will be reserved for the weekends. On weekdays there is a chance to be really productive because the other students and I are surrounded by very intense people.

When we're not talking to these professors and postdocs who have decent offices, the main place for us to work is a room with a window and a twelve seat table. This is not bad because there are usually only six people sitting there. However, this is not guaranteed to stay the case. If one looks at the participant list, there could easily be days when all of the seats fill up. This is where there is room to game the system and I am happy to say that it only required a few lines of code.

A view of Florence

The key is that the profs and postdocs have fluctuating schedules too. So even offices that are "reserved" are going to be empty if we go at the right time. On average they stay for less time than us. Partly because they have had more years to travel and become blasé to it, and partly because they have other workshops and commitments at their home institutions. I highly doubt that students will take advantage of this fact but I am writing a "free desk" tally on the blackboard to provide as much information as possible.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
Week 1 40 40 40 40 40
Week 2 0 0 0 0 1
Week 3 8 8 8 7 8
Week 4 44 45 45 45 44
Week 5 51 51 50 50 49
Week 6 40 40 40 40 40
Week 7 48 48 48 48 48

The maximum number of people who will ever be at the conference at one time is 77. So all I had to do was put the arrival / departure dates in machine readable format and then count the number of overlapping stays for each day. Subtracting all of these numbers from 77 produced the above table. Let's see if we can make this a trend where everyone having eyes on a better office performs this type of analysis.

Michelangelo's famous statue of David

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