Tournament of Towns in Toronto
Summer Conference
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18th Summer Conference, Seliger Lake, 2006

Song Yi

We lived in lodges in a forest; spider webs infested every corner of our rooms; the "lavatories" were nothing more than holes in the ground surrounded by thin plywood walls. The accommodations at the 2006 Tournament of Towns Summer Conference were significantly below standard. However, other aspects of the conference more than compensated for the spartan living conditions.

On the first day, the professors presented a series of lectures to introduce their topics. Unfortunately, I only paid partial attention, as I was still suffering from sleep deprivation resulting from jet lag. Eventually, I decided to work on the topic "Zero Sum Sequences" with two German students. The problems were quite difficult but very interesting. I experienced the sensation of working on research-oriented mathematics along a time span of approximately one week. After three days, we had an intermediate finish, when we handed in all our completely solutions for evaluation and the professors presented additional problems. After working for a few more days, we handed in our final solutions. Consequences of earlier, easier problems were vital to the solutions of more difficult problems; in the end, everything seemed to fit together perfectly.

Fortunately, my expectations of the cafeteria food being toxic turned out to be false; the food was edible, albeit not very tasty. Much to my delight, I found that some students attending the conference could speak English somewhat fluently, about as well as most Canadian students can speak French. They were kind and accepting despite the fact I couldn't speak Russian. Most of them possessed extraordinary mathematical talent and many of them attended international Olympiads. I met many interesting people and made some new friends. In evenings, we lit up the samovar and drank tea while listening to Sergey Dorichenko, vice-president of the Tournament of Towns, play guitar. I took the opportunity to stalk a grass-eating cat (I saw it eat grass) that constantly wandered around our residence.

Despite the poor accommodations, the conference was a highly rewarding experience; the math was interesting and the people were brilliant. I strongly recommend going if you ever have the opportunity.


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