Juan Besa’s successful dissertation defense was last Thursday, but I’ve been holding off posting about it here because one of his committee members took ill and couldn’t sign off on it until today.

Juan started his graduate work in embedded systems, but for the last several years he has been one of the theory students at UCI, advised by Mike Goodrich. My joint papers with him have included algorithms for scheduling traffic signals to allow groups of vehicles to move through them quickly and maintaining an approximately sorted list of items whose sorted order is changing dynamically in a context where comparisons are expensive.

He also has papers on which I was not involved, on chess knights’ tours with few crossings or bends (mentioned briefly with links here), embedding planar digraphs so each vertex has few alternations between incoming and outgoing edges (to appear at ESA), and another one on low-width tree drawing that has yet to appear publicly as a paper but forms part of his dissertation.

Juan has dual Chilean and Spanish citizenship, and (having the usual double-barreled Spanish surname “Besa Vial”) had to deal with the difficulties of getting that name format understood in non-Spanish-speaking countries; he ended up choosing to truncate it to “Besa” in his recent publications. He is heading to England to work at a machine learning company there. With Brexit coming up quickly, I worry about how that will work out, but I hope it does work well for him.

Congratulations, Juan!

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