Tuesday, August 31st, 2021

Letter from the Director, August 2021

Dear friends,

We’re back with the first newsletter of the 2021–22 academic year. I hope all of you enjoyed a restorative summer.

We are happy to be running in-person research programs again this fall — on Computational Complexity of Statistical Inference (CCSI), and on Geometric Methods in Optimization and Sampling (GMOS). Conventionally, the field of statistics sheds light on how much data are needed, while computer science is concerned with how much computation is needed to solve a problem. It is only over the past decade that the rich interplay between the statistical and computational needs has come into focus, and the CCSI program is aimed at catalyzing a concerted effort at this intersection. The GMOS program aims to develop and promote a geometric approach to various computational problems in sampling, optimization, and partial differential equations. The two programs enjoy considerable overlap and synergy, making for a stimulating fall semester at the Simons Institute. The first boot camp was held last week, while the second is happening now.

This summer, as you may recall, we held an in-person Summer Cluster in Quantum Computation. We’re pleased to share with you a conversation among the cluster organizers, as the latest installment of our Polylogues web series.

In our SimonsTV corner this month, we have the first two talks in our new Breakthroughs lecture series, which highlights major new advances in the field. Virginia Vassilevska Williams speaks about A Refined Laser Method and Faster Matrix Multiplication, and Yuansi Chen presents An Almost Constant Lower Bound of the Isoperimetric Coefficient in the KLS Conjecture.

Furthermore, this month, for the first time, we are integrating our newsletter with the Institute’s newly revivified blog, Calvin Café, which is overseen by Senior Scientist Prasad Raghavendra. Check out the first offering in the Calvin Café corner of the newsletter: a post on Trends in Machine Learning Theory by Margalit Glasgow, Michal Moshkovitz, and Cyrus Rashtchian. We invite guest posts on our blog. Interested authors should send a message to raghavendra [at] berkeley.edu

Looking ahead, in January 2022 the Simons Institute will be hosting the 13th annual Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science (ITCS) conference. The conference has released a call for papers; we hope you’ll consider making a submission. 

Last but not least, some among you may have taken note that the Simons Institute is entering its 10th anniversary season. We look forward to celebrating with all of you over the course of the year. Watch this space for developments and announcements.

As always, we invite you to continue the conversation on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter

Best wishes for the coming academic year,

Shafi Goldwasser
Director, Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing