Despite the constraints imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, 2020–21 was a year of tremendous growth for the Simons Institute. Thanks to generous grants from the Simons Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy, we have added three new cohorts of postdocs to the Institute community. In addition to our research fellows, who are in residence for semester-long research programs, we now host Simons-Berkeley postdoctoral researchers, quantum postdoctoral researchers, and machine learning postdoctoral researchers for periods of one to two years. This increases our population of postdoctoral-level researchers over the course of the year from 30–36 to 54. This represents an increase of 69% since 2019–20.
“This expansion adds a new dimension to the community in Calvin Lab,” remarks Simons Institute Director Shafi Goldwasser. “It enhances the Institute’s role in the cultivation of a next generation of leaders in theoretical computer science.”
The introduction of focused postdoctoral researchers in quantum computing and machine learning came as a result of the establishment by the Institute of research pods in these two areas. Launched this year and funded entirely by extramural sources, the research pods initiative builds continuity within individual themes and across themes and programs. Each pod features a small number of researchers who collectively conduct sustained research over a period of several years, while intermittently participating in thematically relevant programs and clusters hosted by the Institute. Associate Director Peter Bartlett leads the Research Pod in Machine Learning, and Research Director for Quantum Computing Umesh Vazirani leads the Research Pod in Quantum Computing.