Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Positions in eg. Data Intelligence/UBC/CA

UBC CS has positions: Postdoc in data understanding/intelligence with Prof. Rachel Pottinger (Applications or questions should be sent via email to rap@cs.ubc.ca), 3 assistant professors in any area (http://bit.ly/2mNcNdR ) and a tenure-track teaching position (http://bit.ly/2zToVPs ). Vancouver is beautiful, the faculty is strong, and Rachel is an excellent mentor. 

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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Low hanging art

Acrylic boxes are like single-use bandaids: rip them open, use them, toss the dregs, and carry the imprint of them through the day. On the left is my attempt at teaching my kids to use an entire set of acrylics on one painting. On the right is the height of my creativity, responding to a child who wanted pancakes the shape of The Boar God Nago from Princess Mononoke.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Some days one misses humor

I know the classic "Chukcha not reader, Chukcha writer!", here is a variant:
"Chukcha posts, doesnt view (posts)!"

Monday, October 09, 2017

Amazon Docs, Theory Research kindles some fire.

I read through whitepapers to keep me updated on how companies see themselves and their products, in a technical arena.

I was checking out AWS whitepapers, where among docs that limn the core strategic view of Amazon Web Services and their products, is a research paper, theory research on random cut forest, anomaly detection, and streaming algorithms!

Here is the paper by Nina, Sudipto and others, remarkably nestled within core whitepapers for the entire AWS universe. This research must have kindled some fire, deep within Amazon.  

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Sunday, October 08, 2017

Planar Matching in NC

There are problems that I carry in my bones, even if I am not actively working on them. Every once in a while you are working on something that reminds you of these problems and try to renew the attack, other times they simply simmer in your psyche.

One such problem is perfect matching in NC. I teach the Mulmuley, Vazirani, Vazirani result that perfect matching is in RNC, and even recently went back to the open problem of producing a NC solution when I was looking at some MapReduce variants.

Vijay and Nina have an arXiv paper showing planar graph perfect matching is in NC and I am looking forward to reading it. 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Online Advertising as Influence Channel

Several years ago I pointed out that online advertising was a very cheap, simple way to reach  selective population most places in the world. Imagine you want to reach folks in Indonesia who can say weave, in South Africa interested in chemicals, or in Brazil interested in hacking cellphone chips. For a few 100 dollars, you can set up an ad campaign through many intermediaries and have it running in a few days.  Now imagine we substituted "enemies" for "country" and whatever you like, for "weave, chemicals, chips", and I thought this channel was far more effective and efficient than running old world spy operations, you can snoop and influence without having a personal presence or sophisticated electronic and broadcasting devices, in a highly targeted way.

In the past year or so,  the scenario above has played out in crucial ways.

Politics and governments aside, I am finally glad to see online ads get attention from media and researchers  as a potential influence channel. Over dinner I have asked folks, "Imagine you can spend a few hundred dollars and target **a specific person** in the world and govern messages they see online. What could one do?"

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunsetting ICORE

When friends remember me, I am happy to go to distant lands. I managed to travel to Israel to give a talk at the ICORE day.  I-CORE is Israeli Center for Research Excellence program, and the day marked the end of the funding period. Israel has great talent, so any money the govt puts in finds great use; in  this case, it seems to have filled a severe need, providing much-needed support for postdocs.

I talked about Heavy Hitters (HHs), a bit of the classical Count-Min stuff but also much less sculpted stuff like high dimensional HHs, H-influence and other topics. I find HHs interesting because it is not top k, it is a distinct concept, and a concept that represents what is (often the only thing) possible within resource constraints. Robi asked a great question, if this can be formalized.

There were many good talks. I managed to catch a bit of the talks by Rotem Oshman, Michael Shapira, Shahar Dobzinski, and others. I also managed to catch Yuval Ishai and Eylon Yagev talk secure multiparty computing and complexity theory resp in Hebrew. Finally, Bernard Haeupler gave an excellent  talk on using shortcuts to break natural bottlenecks with message passing algorithms. This talk introduced the audience to principled theory methods (was happy to see Leighton-Maggs-Rao O(Congestion+Dilation) result reenter the psyche) to attack worst case performance of message passing algorithms.

ps: Thanks to Moni for mentioning Mossel's paradox with dice/6 over dinner, he said there was an elegant solution, and my neurons stayed awake figuring it out.

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