Letter from the Director, September 2019

Shafi Goldwasser photo

Dear friends,

Greetings from the Simons Institute, where the new academic year is just beginning. We kicked off the fall semester with the launch of the Richard M. Karp Distinguished Lectures on September 3. And we are hosting programs on Online and Matching-Based Market Design and on Proofs, Consensus, and Decentralizing Society

These new programs follow on the heels of a vibrant summer at the Institute, bursting with activity. The Institute hosted a summer program on Foundations of Deep Learning, and clusters on Fairness and on Error-Correcting Codes and High-Dimensional Expansion. You can read about these activities in Luca Trevisan’s column, This Summer at the Simons Institute

Alongside our scientific research, we are increasingly sharpening our focus on the intersections of algorithms and society. This summer, in our Theoretically Speaking series of public lectures, we hosted a panel discussion on "Algorithms and the Law," where I was joined by Martha Minow (Harvard Law School), Patricia Williams (Columbia Law School), Elliot Schrage (Facebook), and moderator Peter Bartlett (Simons Institute). You can watch the conversation here

We also hosted a groundbreaking workshop on racial bias in algorithms, organized by Williams and Cynthia Dwork (Harvard University). This issue of the newsletter includes a trio of features about this exciting project: a workshop report, a video interview with the organizers, and a Q & A with Sendhil Mullainathan (University of Chicago).

This issue of the newsletter also features Research Vignettes showcasing research results from our Fall 2018 programs on Foundations of Data Science and Lower Bounds in Computational Complexity. In our From the Inside series, we have articles on our Spring 2019 programs on Geometry of Polynomials and Data Privacy: Foundations and Applications.

In some final news, we’re delighted to welcome Interim Senior Scientist Prasad Raghavendra, an award-winning complexity theorist and UC Berkeley faculty member. Learn more about Prasad here. We wish good luck to outgoing Senior Scientist Luca Trevisan, who has accepted a permanent position at Bocconi University in Milan.

I hope to see you in Berkeley this fall.

Best wishes,​​​​​​

Shafi Goldwasser
Director, Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing

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