Friday, October 30th, 2020

Letter from the Director, October 2020

Dear friends,

I hope this message finds you well. We are halfway through an excellent semester. Our research programs on Theory of Reinforcement Learning and Probability, Geometry and Computation in High Dimensions are proving to be highly dynamic, and are playing out across a variety of remote collaboration platforms. If you’ve not yet had a chance to attend one of our remote workshops, public lectures and other events, we hope you’ll take a moment to look at our calendar and join us sometime soon.

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new postdoctoral fellowship program at the Simons Institute. Simons-Berkeley Postdoctoral Fellowships will be awarded for periods of one or two years and will center on close mentorship with Berkeley faculty member, while also allowing the postdocs to participate in Simons Institute programs. The initiative is funded by a special grant from the Simons Foundation aimed at supporting postdocs whose career trajectories are impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

We are also pleased to share that JP Morgan, Swiss Re and NTT Research have joined our Industrial Partners network. Our three new partners take their place alongside partners VMware, Microsoft Research, Facebook/Novi and Google Research. All will be present for the Institute’s sixth annual Industry Day, which takes place online on November 5.

In this issue of the newsletter, we share a second installment of Simons Institute Senior Scientist Prasad Raghavendra’s new column, Theory at the Institute and Beyond, and an insider’s perspective on the reinforcement learning program shared by Google Research Fellow Vidya Muthukumar.

In our SimonsTV corner, we conclude our miniseries Berkeley in the 80s with a re-release of Russell Impagliazzo’s 2017 interview with Simons Institute Founding Director Richard M. Karp. Included as well is a presentation on The Ethical Algorithm by Michael Kearns (UPenn), the most recent installment in our Theoretically Speaking series of public lectures.

I look forward to seeing you online and in Berkeley before long.

Best wishes,

Shafi Goldwasser
Director, Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing