Friday, December 15, 2017

Diversity/Broadening Participation

I realized that scientific and educational community spends lot of effort inspiring, recruiting and training students from a broad spectrum of the society in K-12 programs, with creative tools including portfolio based approach to personalized education. But when these students get to the undergrad program, it seems like we lump them all together into a single or few tracks. Is our college/university education diversity-aware? What we teach, how we teach, how we test and grade, are these activities aware of differences in diverse population towards pedagogy? I am at the NSF CISE Advisory Committee meeting and I am mulling over this issue. 

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, 3 assistant professors in any area ( ) and a tenure-track teaching position ( ). Vancouver is beautiful, the faculty is strong, and Rachel is an excellent mentor. 


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.  


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. 


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?"