Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Congratulations Endre!

National Academy of Sciences announces new members and Endre Szemeredi is a new member. Congratulations, Endre! Others include David Aldous.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Game Theory of Painting the Fence

Tom Sawyer's story of whitewashing the fence is a story in Economics. Tom, left with an unenviable task, makes it enticing so his buddies pay him for a turn at the task. At the end, "He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while – plenty of company – and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn’t run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village. Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

String Maestro

Zvi Galil is is a String Maestro, used to having the final standing bound for many string matching problems. He returns to the arena with a new result (joint with Dany Breslauer): a streaming O(log m) space, O(1) time per new symbol, string matching algorithm, a result that has many of the hallmarks of his string research (prefix periodicity, checking continuity of periodicity, amortizations, etc). Nice! Btw, he is now the dean of College of Computing at GeorgiaTech.


On Bad Samples

"The" furniture fair of the world took place, as usual, in Milan. As NY Times says, it “... is the event of the year — something akin to the Detroit, Geneva and Tokyo auto shows, or the New York, Paris and Milan fashion weeks, rolled into one.", and the article focuses on the creative pieces, including some astonishing lights. LA Times does a photo series that arches from the good to the not so good. This site has the most hideous designs from the same show. Here and elsewhere, the best rests with the worst.

I think about this because there is a similar phenomena in research papers. Potent papers coexist with the Inert. Problem is, students get confused by Inert papers and are not able to develop a metric for good work; researchers see Inert papers published, their authors have an academic career and lose some of their inspiration. Inert papers open the valve and let the gas out some, all around.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Films + Exchanges: Two interests collide

Two of my interests collide.

The FTC has approved an exchange (called Trend Exchange, follow the media coverage and reaction here) to trade future contracts on Box Office Receipts for films. On Monday, in my class, I let the students discuss how they would design such an exchange, and many questions arose: what will be traded (contracts for box office collection at different times?), timing of the market (before or after film release?), role of the studios (can they bet against their own movies?), or the payout and settlement issues (will they help finance films, hedge, or be speculative on the side?), etc. Some information is available on the Trend Exchange FAQ. There is another exchange approved recently, this one by Cantor, and it gives some information in the contract. I should push the students to come up with a couple of different designs so we can analyze them.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

WWW 2010

The WWW Conf will take place in a week. On Friday Apr 30th at 1-2.30 PM, I will give an Industry Track talk on Google Ad Exchange (AdX). Actually I lie: the talk will be given by Scott Spencer, Eyal Manor and I. Scott will talk about the Business, Eyal about the Engineering, and I, about the Research. Of course, Scott can easily talk about the research, and Eyal about the business, but we had to divide the task in some way. I am quite excited about this three-faceted talk. So, I hope those of you who find themselves in Raleigh, NC, on Friday will show up for the talk (the Industry track program is not on the webpage yet).

Ashish, Srikant and I area-chaired Internet Monetization track and have to thank the PC members (and of course the many anonymous referees) who helped tremendously: Deepak Agarwal, Moshe Babaioff, Maria-Florina Balcan, Nicole Immorlica, David Parkes, Diane Tang, Kamal Jain, William Walsh, Michael Wellman, Vahab S. Mirrokni, Alessandro Acquisti, Sharad Goel, Tim Roughgarden, John Chuang, Byron Ellis, Rob Luenberger, and Matt Richardson.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Doing "Air Math"