Guruswami, Fox, Wigderson, Jackson, and Calderbank to Speak in CICS Distinguished Lecturer Series

Computer Science Building

The College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) has announced the five lecturers to speak in the college's annual Distinguished Lecturer Series.

In fall 2016, CICS is hosting Venkatesan Guruswami, computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University; Dieter Fox, computer science and engineering professor at the University of Washington; Avi Widgerson, computer science and discrete mathematics professor at Princeton University's School of Mathematics, Institute for Advanced Study; Daniel Jackson, computer science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Robert Calderbank, electrical engineering, computer science and mathematics professor, and director of the Information Initiative at Duke University.

Lectures are free and open to the public and will be held in the Computer Science Building, rooms 150/151. The Guruswami lecture will be held at 10 a.m.; all other lectures will take place at 4:00 p.m. with receptions starting at 3:40 p.m. prior to each lecture, in the atrium outside of the presentation room. 

CICS has been inviting influential computer science researchers and faculty to UMass Amherst since 1989, encouraging thought-provoking conversations and broadening educational opportunities for our students and community. 

On Monday, Oct. 17 at 10 a.m. Guruswami will deliver the lecture, "Progress in Error-Connection: New Codes for Old Noise Models."

70 years after the origin of coding theory, there has been a lot of progress in constructing minimally redundant code for different noise models. However, there are still some problems - which have prompted an interesting array of questions for the future demands of modern technology. Guruswami will explore some of these issues, such as, worst case errors, i.i.d. errors, bit deletions, and single symbol erasure.

On Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 4:00 p.m., Fox will deliver the lecture, "Toward Robots that Understand People and their Environment."

Using examples from his research, Fox will delve into a discussion on robots and the necessity of their abilities to interact naturally with the people around them. Over the past few years, robotic ability to model, detect, and track objects have vastly improved. Such improvements have provided robots with an increased understanding of their surroundings and people around them. Fox will discuss existing problems as well as the highlights of the aforementioned technological advances.

On Friday, Nov. 4 at 4:00 p.m., Wigderson will lecture on, "Randomness."

Wigderson's lecture, intended for a general scientific audience, asks, "Is the universe inherently deterministic or probabilistic? Perhaps more importantly - can we tell the difference between the two?" Randomness has been a tool for many years, from something as simple as a coin toss, to something as purposeful and complex as an algorithm. Wigderson will break down the ramifications of a universe with no randomness through a computational theory of randomness.

On Thursday, Nov. 10 at 4:00 p.m., Jackson will deliver the lecture, "Towards a Theory of Software Design."

There is an acceptable theory of software engineering that patterns internal structures of software systems; however, there is not a concrete theory regarding the design of software. Jackson will offer an emerging theory on software design, using identification of concepts and purposes. There will be additional discussion of straightforward design rules and several widely used web design applications.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 4:00 p.m., Calderbank will lecture on, "Codes for Data Storage."

Coding and Information Theory research continues to rapidly move in new directions, thanks to developments in data storage. The growth of data centers has promoted a shift to studying and using codes with small parity checks. Calderbank will discuss some developments as well as how to extend the lifetime of Flash memory.