On July 8 (Cancún time, July 9 in Chinese time), our Good Benchmarking Practices for Evolutionary Computation (BENCHMARK@GECCO) workshop took place as part of the Genetic and Evolutionary Computation Conference (GECCO) in form of an online meeting. It was a great success and more than 70 international researchers from all over the world took part in it. There were many discussions and talks, which will have a lasting impact and which probably have started quite some new efforts in our community. It is clear that all of us strive for improving the way metaheuristic algorithms and optimization problems are investigated. Good research requires sound and reproducible experimentation. Our report Benchmarking in Optimization: Best Practice and Open Issues, published on July 7 on Arxiv, was one step into that direction. Together with the input from the workshop, it will further be improved. Other community efforts discussed in this workshop include the benchmarking network and the IOHprofiler. All-in-all, many questions and topics have been raised, so we now have lots of exciting work to do to answer, research, and implement them.

Today, Mr. Alexander Jahl from the Distributed Systems Group of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Kassel in Germany published the source code of the Distributed Algorithms Simulator on GitHub. This is an educational piece of software written in Java, which allows students to implement many of the algorithms from the field of distributed systems, ranging from distributed critical sections over time synchronization to message flooding to the distributed computation of the greatest common divisor. The simulator then shows a visualization of how the algorithms progress and how the messages travel over the network.

The original code of the Distributed Algorithms Simulator was written by me back in 2007 to support the students of the lecture "Basisalgorithmen Verteilter Systeme" held by my PhD father Prof. Dr. Kurt Geihs. It is very rewarding and I am happy to see that this piece of educational software is still doing its job after more than a decade. I hope that the 13 generations of students in the lecture as well as the colleagues who held the exercises for them after me (and who have maintained and improved the software) found it helpful in their studies and teaching, respectively. Now that it became open source, I am curious to see how long it can remain useful.

Thank you, Alex, for maintaining it for so long and for making it OSS!

Screenshot of the Distributed Algorithms Simulator

Today, on January 21st, 2020, I attended the 2020 Hefei City Spring Festival Get-Together [2020合肥市春节团拜会] organized by the Hefei Municipal Committee of the CPC Hefei Municipal People's Government [中共合肥市委合肥市人民政府]. This was second time for me to attend this event (2018 was my first one, but I was unlucky to miss the one in 2019 due to a conference). I was looking forward to this year's event and I was certainly not disappointed. The event began with short welcome speeches by the representatives of the city government. Then, like in 2018, fantastic performances were given by different artist groups, including teams from the Hefei Luju Theatre [合肥市庐剧院] and the Hefei Song and Dance Troupe [合肥市歌舞团]. There were great singers, graceful dances, and a wonderful comedy act. Every single performance was perfect and you could really feel how much effort the artists put into them. I very much hope to get a chance to attend the event again next year.

On January 20, 2020, our secretary Mrs. Zhou Bing [周冰] and Prof. Dr. Thomas Weise [汤卫思] attended the New Year's Party for the Friends of the Hefei Foreign Affairs Office [合肥市人民政府外事办公室]. The meeting was hosted by Mr. Qiliang Chen [陈启亮], director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office [合肥市人民政府港澳事务办公室]. Most of the attendees were overseas Chinese who return home to celebrate the Spring festival together with their families. Even though they now live in countries such as the USA, Spain, Hungary, Belarus, Russia, or Argentina, the ties to their hometown remain. This was a very happy evening with a nice dinner and a chance to meet new friends.

One January 19, 2020, I attended the 2020 Tea Party for High-Level Talents and Symposium for Newly Elected Academicians [2020年高层次人才迎春茶话会暨新当选院士座谈会] of the province Anhui [安徽省] held in the East Hall [东楼礼堂] of the Daoxianglou Hotel [稻香楼宾馆]. In this meeting, the seven(!) new academicians of our province as well as high-level talents and teams were introduced. The importance of science, technology, and the cultivation of top-level talents in all fields was emphasized. Mr. Jinbin Li [李锦斌], the party secretary of our province, as well as Mr. Guoying Li [李国英], the province governor, both took part in this meeting, which further stresses the deep interest of the province leadership in pushing technological and scientific progress.

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