Monday, August 31st, 2020

Letter from the Director, August 2020

Dear friends,

I hope that all of you are doing well amid what must be the most unusual beginning to an academic year in living memory. At the Simons Institute, our fall programs on Probability, Geometry, and Computation in High Dimensions and on Theory of Reinforcement Learning kicked off this month — virtually, at least for the time being. We look forward very much to seeing you in person and will open our doors to visitors as soon as the university deems it safe to do so. 

For those of you who may not have heard the news, we are delighted to share that the Simons Foundation has awarded us a second decade of funding. We are tremendously grateful to the Foundation for its support and for its ongoing impact on the field of theoretical computer science. Read the full announcement here

It is our pleasure to announce as well that the Simons Institute will play a key role in a new $10 million project funded by the National Science Foundation and the Simons Foundation devoted to investigating the theoretical foundations of deep learning. Simons Institute Associate Director Peter Bartlett is leading the project, and the Simons Institute will host most of its research and education activities, in the form of research programs on related themes.

This issue of the newsletter features a research vignette by Shweta Agrawal on The Unlikely Friendship of Lattices and Elliptic Curves, a topic connected with our Spring 2020 program on Lattices: Algorithms, Complexity, and Cryptography

The Simons Institute held two fascinating workshops this summer. The first was on Algorithm Design, Law, and Policy. My co-organizers and I are pleased to share our report on the workshop with you here. The second was on Decoding Communication in Nonhuman Species, and we’re delighted to share with you two fascinating talks from the event: one from Joyce Poole, on elephant communication, and the other from Michal Irani, on deep "internal" learning

In July, in an online installment of our Theoretically Speaking series of public lectures, Uri Alon gave an eye-opening account of a research project applying mathematical analysis to discover and reverse the mechanisms underlying aging; we’re pleased to share that talk with you

We hope to see you online in the months to come. To learn more about our current and upcoming activities, check out Senior Scientist Prasad Raghavendra’s column, This Fall at the Simons Institute

Till soon,

Shafi Goldwasser
Director, Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing