Monday, March 31, 2014

My Drive

Here is a video of my drive to work this AM,
one hand on the wheel,
the other one holding an iPhone...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Research on Research

Here is research on a game of research:

  • We formulated an Academic Game, where an authors' current h-index is the total effort/credit they have to invest in their research collaborations, and they can split that wisely to maximize their future h-index returns. We need to analyze this game some more!
Something to be modeled. I call this the Sheen Problem.
  • A Harvard faculty imparts some sheen to Harvard based on their research accomplishments or awards, and in turn, Harvard confers some gleam on them via its stature, history, alumni and so on. Informally, I want to separate Harvard's component  from other components in the stature of a Harvard faculty.  Is there a suitable model to study this?  Jon Kleinberg-esque progress will be cool.  (For example, one can focus on the h-index of a Harvard faculty and find a way to discount it for the Harvard effect. There are potentially other approaches.)



  • On Indian Politics: Kejrewal needs to play Gandhi and find his Nehru.
  • On Evolution: Bananas need to evolve to continally be attractive to Humans so they can survive as a species. See their language skills in the picture. 
  • On Game Theory: Even and odd numbered plates need to  alternating on Paris streets. So, people will buy two (used) cars each, one with odd and other with even plate. 
  • Friday, March 14, 2014

    Travels and Incredibly X India

    It is hard NOT to be an observer when you travel and when you observe, it is hard NOT to be a writer (not a photographer: privacy issues; not a painter: you need tools).
    • There is an ad for Oracle Exadata which is basically a picture of a metal box. This is the best ad one can create? 
    • I watched the movie And Who Taught You To Drive?  on the plane, a movie about three expats (german, american and korean) trying to get a drivers license in foreign countries (india, japan and germany, resp). It is an interesting exercise in teaching and other idiosyncracies of cultures, who knew getting a drivers license was so hard, and the strange part is who succeeds (no spoilers).
    • There is a tourism ad campaign for India called, Incredible India. There might even be an exclamation point somewhere. I think there are missing adjectives. Incredibly colorful/indelible/insane/.. India. I would like to see Incredibly Clean India. There is an outstanding question. In the 5k+ yrs of Indian civilization, when did the local population manage to keep public spaces clean?

    Big Data Call

    There is an NSF solicitation out for Big Data with a deadline of June 9. It has emphasis on Foundations, so beyond the fact that the theory community is made for Big Data (I mean, we improve algorithms by looking at instances as n \rightarrow \infty), this seems even more on target. Simons theory center at Berkeley had their Big Data program, I blogged about the Big Data panel in database theory, and there are many, many other efforts to stimulate discussions and identify challenges in Big Data theory (one in IISc Bangalore is interesting). So, this solicitation seems like a place to propose concrete next or long term steps for research. As an aside, check out discussions on "urban data" from NYC and related efforts. Pretty viz.


    Analyzing publications

    I have an interest in analyzing publications.  In prior work, we looked at clues authors leave in the latex source of papers (not PDFs).  We extended that to study if there is a bias how one or the other authors' names is used to refer to a joint publication. Beyond that, we got curious about a natural challenge. We write reference letters for other researchers and while recommending Alice, we need to find Bob and Carol who are suitable, comparable researchers. This is not a  trivial task. Sometimes one looks across areas and other times within; sometimes one looks for someone with similar experience and other times with a similar initial trajectory so we can project out by analogy; sometimes one is comparable in volume, other times by citations and quality; etc. We did a simple study recently to see if one can automatically/algorithmically find comparable researchers. Here is the paper, we found some examples that challenged us to explain them, please email me if you want to find out more.

    Anyway, this is the backdrop to what I really wanted to blog (v):

    Once in a while we get rankings of universities (ex). These cause angst or jubilation.  On the other hand, there is a lot of theory of rankings, axiomatic, algorithmic, strategic and so on that point to the challenge of producing defensible rankings.  Going beyond, are there interesting research ideas to automatically/algorithmically produce university rankings? I would love to see some research that even tackles a narrower problem of ranking departments based on the publications of the current faculty, or ranking based on the graduated PhDs, etc. 


    Sunday, February 23, 2014

    Streaming PhD, MSR, Cambridge and Cormode

    Graham is now a Professor in Univ. of Warwick, UK, and adds significantly to the intellectual heft across the Atlantic in streaming algorithms. Here is an announcement for a PhD scholarship at Warwick with an opportunity to work with Graham and also the talent at MSR, Cambridge. 


    Saturday, February 08, 2014

    Poetry Hack

    There has been little, if any, poetry. Here it goes:

    Along the twists of skyline blvd, late friday night,
    wind gusts lashed from left, rains pelted from the right,
    Young trees  succumbed and fell.
    Reminded me of a rose bush left out in a storm long ago  in a poem.
    I rode through inside a  black Merc
    taking turns at top speed, the speed limit a lower bound,
    with Mozart on listener supported radio.

    Saturday, January 18, 2014

    Friends Making Things

    A selection of friends US-wide doing things, all tech:
    • At my Redwoods neighborhood in Big Basin forests, Nick defends online users who may get demand letters, Prenda Law style. (as we all know, 99% of the lawyers give the rest of the 1% a bad name, Nick is the 1%). 
    • In midwest, Paul Barford  (perhaps the first "networks" paper I read was Paul's) is burning it down, protecting web sites from non-human online traffic.
    • Finally, on the east coast, Limor Fried of Adafruit is leading the hands-on revolution,  electronics style, from their factory on Varick street in Manhattan.

    Sunday, January 12, 2014

    Let us start 2014

    • Friend Alicia Keys finally finds a song to match her talent, she has her feet on the ground and she is burning it down.
    • Arvind Kejriwal who graduated college with me is on fire, forming a govt in Delhi, India, representing the 99% who really need it. 
    • Everyone's friend Theo Huxtable (Malcolm) is doing stage with "Who is coming to Dinner". Reminded me, I am still waiting to see someone reprise and play an updated version with the Indian IT person. :) Where is the Indian Sidney Poitier?
    That aside, people ask me what I am feeling. Really what I am feeling. In the final moments of Seven Samurai (if you watched it that far), Kambei, having led the samurai's to their goal --  the village safe, the farmers planting rice with traditional music -- watches a difficult moment (Shino spurs Katsushiro), contemplates arms folded, and realizing the need for leadership, steps forward two steps like he has reached a decision, ready to impose that will on others like he does throughout the film, and then a moment later, steps back. Life is like that.