Monday, November 28, 2016

Dreading when Data is Unleashed.

For past 2 decades we have believed that web will free information, anyone can report it,  pass it on, take it down, etc. But there was always a nuclear outcome that seemed plausible but the optimists thought humans as a crowd will control its misuse. We are learning it is tricky:

Obama said, “If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not … if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.”

"If everything seems to be the same and no distinctions are made, then we won’t know what to protect. We won’t know what to fight for. And we can lose so much of what we’ve gained in terms of the kind of democratic freedoms and market-based economies and prosperity that we’ve come to take for granted,” he said. 

Now I have a mental exercise for folks. We are as a society trying to set Data free. Data (say tables, observations, measurements) can be presented, analyzed, depicted, mined in so many ways that there is true and what's not will (need to) be debated in web scale. 

Undergrad vs Graduate Work

What is the difference between undergrad and grad students in professional interaction? I explained it recently to a student as follows:

  •  In undergrad times, the interactions are transactional/negotiation-oriented: professor gives you HWs, you do them, you get points;  professor poses a problem, you answer it, get points, you dont answer it, say the problem was confusing, get partial points; at the end of the course, you get a grade, forget the professor,  approach the professor again when you need a reference letter, professor writes a more or less generic letter saying you were one of the top X students in the class or whatever; your life moves on, the professor stays behind. 
  • In grad times, the interactions are relational: you take a course with a professor and do well or not; you might continue research with the professor or have them on your qualifier exam; you will TA one of their courses later or even be a GA if that professor has funds and your advisor needs some gap funding; that professor might have a contact in a company looking for a research intern for a summer and they might connect you;  they might ask you to referee papers or recommend you for a travel grant; even if your research diverges from that professor, you might remember something about that professor's research which helps you during an interview, just being world-aware; etc. your life moves on, so does the professor's, and two professional research lives, even if parallel, will cross in unexpected ways. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Amazon Postdoc at IISc, India

This Amazon postdoc with IISc, Bangalore, India sounds very interesting, focused on data science/machine learning, and theory CS. IISc has very strong theory researchers. Amazon India is an incredible business success story and has terrific data science/Machine learning researchers. Bangalore is a nice place to spend some time in ones life, and explore India.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

DIMACS Postdoc Positions

Postdoc positions at DIMACS, announced below. I always thought a postdoc at DIMACS was a great opportunity for emerging theorists out of their Phd to round out their research and set up for something big, with the constellation of researchers and resources in the DIMACS ecosystem.

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DIMACS Center, Postdoctoral Associate

DIMACS, the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science, invites applications for various postdoctoral associate positions for 2017-18. Applicants should be recent Ph.D.'s with interest in DIMACS areas, such as computer science, discrete mathematics, statistics, physics, operations research, and their applications. One of  these positions is a one-year postdoctoral associateship investigating modeling of anomaly detection in multi-layer networks. A second position is a two-year associateship in collaboration with the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) in Princeton, NJ emphasizing theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics. Another position associated with the Simons Collaboration on Algorithms and Geometry also emphasizes theoretical computer science and discrete mathematics and could be hosted at Rutgers/DIMACS. A fourth position is a two-year associateship in theoretical machine learning in the Department of Computer Science at Rutgers.

See http://dimacs.rutgers.edu/Applications/postdoc.html for application information. Applications have various deadlines, beginning December 1, 2016. 
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Seeking Research Visitors

I am free much of Jan--Aug next year, and would like to host a couple of researchers at Rutgers/DIMACS/NY/NJ area for collaboration.

I will be mostly doing research in streaming, auction/pricing/mechanism design, or topics of interest in data structures, algorithms, databases, ML/AI.  I am looking for senior graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty members to visit the area, spend a few weeks and get some joint research done. Please contact me if you are interested.

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Views

In the middle below is a monster, and on either side, views of NY.

No Quantum

People used to tell me I was in superposed quantum states. I am much more deterministic now.
  • I live in NY, travel only a little. Kids do that to you. 
  • I teach in Rutgers, undergrads this semester. Have a few PhD students, it is a journey as usual. 
  • I do research in streaming and pricing algorithms. I am excited about some recent theory  (graph matching on streams), new directions (graphical model sketch), some non-theory work on app2vec (see anything2vec), etc. 
  • Like others, between the heartbeats ones life, I manage to consume or create some art.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Much Needed Humor

One needs humor,  now more than ever:

  • People ask me, "what color is your hair these days?" I say, "N/A'. 
  • When I briefly lived in CA, I finally had a garage.  Still, no startup. 
  • I made some tea, it was awful, they said, "Make it with Love", I did, it still tasted awful. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Take a Knee

At the Barnes and Noble in TriBeCa, NY, one is allowed to read a book from the shelves (a) standing up in front of the shelves or (b) seated at the cafe, but one can NOT sit on the floor in the corner spaces around the aisles. When I explained this to my daughter, she asked, "Can I  take a knee and read, Daddy?" :)

I was reflecting the other day: when I was a graduate student, my week days were like others' weekends; when I had my first job, my weekends were like everyone else's weekends; and, when I had a startup like experience, my weekends were like others' weekdays. 

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Life Plans Defeated

I used to think, if everything else fails, I will drive a taxi for livelihood (this is a joke, for a long time I couldnt drive). But the joke got darker: in a few years no one will need a driver. 

News catches up with Economists

Many of our friends -- Hal, Pat, Preston, Susan and others -- are quoted in this NYT article on brand value Economists moving to silicon valley companies