Probably the most challenging speech I gave so far. The worst part of publicly defending a PhD thesis is that you put renown experts, colleagues, friends, and relatives in the same room. This basically means that you have to satisfy some people turned on by super technical stuff, those with whom you crack jokes over coffee, and a majority who doesn’t care the slightest bit about your research. So, I decided to start my presentation with a quote from Stephen Bayne that perfectly expressed my feeling before the talk: “I’m rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I ought to do, but I don’t know where to begin.” No need to say that it lightened everybody’s mood. From there on, I intuitively introduced the concept of configuration, and illustrated the fact that, if printed, the full list of cars that can be manufactured by Renault would be a pile of phone books the size of the distance between the Earth and Pluto. I spare you the part where I dump my fiancĂ©e’s phone book into the recycling bin to tell you that they all understood why configurators are necessary right away. Then off I go with the live demos, which smoothly introduce the challenges explored in the rest of the talk.

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