Algorithms in the Field

One of the great new NSF programs in recent years is the introduction of the “Algorithms in the Field” program, which is a joint initiative from the CCF, CNS, and IIS divisions in CISE.  It’s goal is almost a direct match with what I try to do with my research:  it “encourages closer collaboration between (i) theoretical computer science researchers [..] and (ii) other computing and information researchers [..] very broadly construed”.  The projects it funds are meant to push the boundaries of theoretical tools and apply them in a application domain.

Of course this is perfectly suited to what we do in RSRG at Caltech!  We missed the first year of the call due to bad timing, but we submitted this year and I’m happy to say it was funded (over the summer when I wasn’t blogging)!

The project is joint with Steven Low, Venkat Chandrasekaran, and Yisong Yue and has the (somewhat generic) title “Algorithmic Challenges in Smart Grids: Control, Optimization, and Learning.

For those who are curious, here’s the quick and dirty summary of the goal…taken directly from the proposal.

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(Nearly) A year later

It’s been one year since I started as executive officer (Caltech’s name for department chair) for our CMS department…and, not coincidentally, it’s been almost that long since my last blog post!  But now, a year in, I’ve got my administrative legs under me and I think I can get back to posting at least semi-regularly.

As always, the first post back after a long gap is a news filled one, so here goes!

Caltech had an amazing faculty recruitment year last year!  Caltech’s claim to fame in computer science has always been pioneering disruptive new fields at the interface of computing — quantum computing, dna computing, sparsity and compressed sensing, algorithmic game theory, … Well, this year we began an institute-wide initiative to redouble our efforts on this front and it yielded big rewards.  We hired six new mid-career faculty at the interface of computer science!  That is an enormous number for Caltech, where the whole place only has 300 faculty…

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Algorithms & Uncertainty at the Simons Institute

I’m hoping that most of the people who read this blog have already heard, but in case they haven’t — next Fall, the Simons Institute is hosting a semester-long program on Algorithms and Uncertainty, which I am co-organizing with Avrim Blum, Anupam Gupta, Robert Kleinberg, Stefano Leonardi, and Eli Upfal.

It should be a very interesting semester, and we’ve already lined up a long list of interesting long-term participants.  The planning for the workshops is just beginning, but there will be three main events: an initial “Boot Camp” and then two workshops: “Optimization and Decision-Making Under Uncertainty” and “Learning, Algorithm Design, and Beyond Worst-Case Analysis”.

More info about all of the events will be posted here as it becomes available.

The reason for posting about this now is that a call recently went up for Simons-Berkeley Research Fellowships, which are for junior researchers within six years of their PhD.  Please spread the word about the application — the deadline is December 15, 2015.