SSFLA 2011: Finite Automata, Football and Roller-Coasters

Last week, which was a Holy week before Easter, I was in a nice city in Spain – Tarragona, and attended lectures on computational complexity theory at Spring School in Formal Languages and Applications (SSFLA 2011).

That was the first time I’d been at such a school. Blue Spanish sky, sunny weather, nice fellows – everything left so many unforgettable impressions imprinted as almost a thousand of photos and videos, which are selectively published on Flickr.


Professors Holzer and Baader were great, delivering very interesting and not boring lectures. During brakes we were getting to know each other and discuss our research themes.

Formal Languages and Automata

A formal language for us was mathematics and computational theory.
So we could not help making photos with some mathematical interpretation:
Reflexive relation

Transitive relation

I also took a photo of myself. So, being in a symmetric, reflexive and transitive relation we were in the equivalence relation with each other 🙂

Informal Languages

Spring School was also a great cultural exchange event for all of us. We came from all parts of Europe and South America as well: Germany, Italy, France, Czech Republic, Denmark, Russia, Colombia, Argentina…
An informal language for us was English – the universal communication language for all people of the world. I’d completely realized its benefit in our life during the School.
We used a lot of informal English after lessons 🙂

Sea and Relax

One day Peter, Gil and I went to Salou, a famous resort city on the Mediterranean sea coast named “Costa Dorada”, which is “Gold Coast” from Spanish. Beautiful sea views and gold sand, a bit windy, but sunny weather were very relaxing.
We were basking in the sunshine and resting under Spanish palms. In that moment we were very far from the School in our thoughts, as if we’d escaped to unexpected vacations in the middle of workday.


Football Match and Salsa

One day we watched a match between Barcelona and Real Madrid football teams. That was very funny and enjoyable!
We’d been eating good Colombian food in a Colombian bar. I liked “Empanada” (a stuffed pastry), “Arepa” (pancake-like thin bread from corn meal) with meat and a milk shake with “Lulo” fruit were very tasty!
Two football fans were among us – Luis supporting Real Madrid, and Andres being for Barcelona. The game was very interesting, emotional, full of dramatic goal moments, and we were quite involved, even not being big football fans.

Next day we came to the Colombian bar again and had been dancing salsa till night. I love dancing, and I’d known basic steps of salsa. Andres turned out a good salsa dancer, he leaded well and showed me a real salsa drive. Andres is from Cali – the capital of salsa in Colombia. That was great and unforgettable to dance with a man, who knows what a real Colombian salsa is! Thank you, Andres!

Port Aventura’s Amusements

I had only 3 hours in the park, which is extremely short to try all available attractions. Also the ticket costs 44 euro, considerable price for a full day, but quite expensive for a couple of hours. I walked around the park, which was divided into several zones dedicated to different world parts and countries – China, Mexico, Far West, Europe. Each part was decorated in a special style – Far West is full of Saloons, has a condor in a cage and American food. In China’s part there is the longest roller-coaster – Dragon Khan, in Mexico – the most scariest one – Hurakan Condor.

Long queues for interesting attractions were annoying.  Fortunately, I managed to try Furious Baco in “Europe”. Baco’s worth it – very fast and breathtaking refreshment after 30 minutes waiting in a queue!


The last day, Holy Friday, Paula, Andres and I went to Barcelona. Barcelona was great! For me and Paula that was the first time to Barcelona, and of course, we visited Gaudi’s buildings – Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera.
But the most startling place for me was Gaudi’s park.  Fanciful trees and constructions, cookie-like buildings, plenty of mosaic – that was all amazing! We’d noticed that it takes only two steps toward the park, and you get a completely another view, full of new details and features you couldn’t see from the previous point.

The week passed very fast, left me with lots of impressions and inspired. That was the best trip I’d ever made.
For more photos, you can also view this Flickr set.


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