Thursday, September 30th, 2021

Letter from the Director, September 2021

Dear friends,

I hope this finds you doing well. At the Simons Institute, we are experiencing one of the most exciting and jam-packed semesters since the Institute opened. 

In addition to vibrant programs on Computational Complexity of Statistical Inference and Geometric Methods in Optimization and Sampling, we are hosting ongoing research pods in Quantum Computing and Machine Learning. And the building is lively with three new cohorts of postdocs — one associated with each pod, and a group of Simons-Berkeley postdoctoral researchers funded by a new grant from the Simons Foundation. All told, the population of postdoctoral-level scholars at the Institute over the course of the year is up 69% from the level in 2019–20. You can learn more about the extensive expansion of our postdoc program here

In this issue of the newsletter, we’re delighted to offer the latest installment of Senior Scientist Prasad Raghavendra’s column, Theory at the Institute and Beyond. Prasad shares an advance in algebraic circuit complexity and puts a spotlight on the work of Matthew Brennan, whose loss we mourned this year.

The David Harold Blackwell Summer Research Institute hosted its inaugural cohort of undergraduate researchers (remotely) this summer. We’re delighted to share our video interview with Alayt Issak and Shaniya Peart, two of the program’s first students. 

Also in our SimonsTV corner this month, we have Ashia Wilson’s popular Optimization Crash Course, from the recent Geometric Methods in Optimization and Sampling Boot Camp.

We hope you’ll join us for one of our many exciting events next month: our seventh annual Industry Day, Richard M. Karp Distinguished Lectures on Computational Barriers in Statistical Estimation and Learning and Mathematical Imaging, a Breakthroughs lecture on locally testable codes, a Theoretically Speaking panel on primate vision, or one of the upcoming workshops from our research programs. 

Looking forward to meeting you again soon,

Shafi Goldwasser
Director, Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing