December 11: Dennis Shasha, CIMS
The writer of puzzles often invents puzzles to illustrate a principle.
The puzzles, however, sometimes have other ideas.
They speak up and say that they would be so
much prettier as slight variants of their original selves.
The dilemma is that the puzzle inventor sometimes can't solve those variants.
Sometimes he finds out that his colleagues can't solve them either,
because there is no existing theory for solving them.
At that point, these sassy variants deserve to be called upstarts.
We discuss a few upstarts inspired originally
from the Falklands/Malvinas Wars, zero-knowledge proofs,
and hikers in Colorado, and city planning.
They have given a good deal of trouble to a certain
mathematical detective whom I know well.