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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The South Has Risen

Who would have thought the next theoretical computer science powerhouse would have come from Atlanta? Georgia Tech this year has hired Santosh Vempala and Adam and Yael Tauman Kalai into an already amazing theory group. In the past few years Georgia Tech has gone from a good theory program to one of the largest and strongest in the country. How did they accomplish that feat? Seeing potential where others haven't, solving two-body problems both inside and outside the department and most importantly having the resources to go after opportunities when they occur. Alas two of their recent hires came at the expense of Chicago/TTI but hey, all's fair in love, war and recruiting.

It's not like other departments have stopped hiring in theory. In the past two hiring years alone several schools have hired junior theorists including Carnegie-Mellon, Cornell, Michigan, MIT Math, Penn State, Rochester, Stanford, Washington and Wisconsin. Many universities realize that in order to have a strong CS department one needs a strong theory group and in order to improve or even maintain strength in theory one needs strong young talent.

18 comments:

  1. On the face of it, the last comment seems reasonable. However, another post I read today may question it. A new study by economists at NBER indicates that it is not important where you are located in an era where physical barriers are blurred. See http://paul.kedrosky.com/archives/2006/05/29/the_internet_an.html

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  2. How did they accomplish that feat? Seeing potential where others haven't, solving two-body problems both inside and outside the department and most importantly having the resources to go after opportunities when they occur.

    You give them too much credit. Is more like: accidentally landing more theoreticians than they wanted, and accidentally solving a two body problem they never meant to solve.

    MIT letting Santosh Vempala go? Wow! the things that the "rich" can afford to do! I'd kill to have someone like Santosh here.

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  3. "... and accidentally solving a two body problem they never meant to solve."

    What, they didn't realize they were married? How could they not have meant to solve it by hiring both of them?

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  4. A more recently-updated page for the GT theory group is here:
    http://www-static.cc.gatech.edu/computing/Theory/

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  5. About time. Sherman nailed Atlanta like 150 years ago???

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  6. Which young theorists has Carnegie Mellon hired?

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  7. A few years ago CMU hired Anupam Gupta, and this year they hired Ryan O'Donnell.

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  8. Right, Anupam Gupta. I wasn't aware they had hired Ryan O'Donnell.

    With Anupam and Ryan, together with the Blums and Gary Miller, thats quite a formidable theory group.

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  9. This will make the ACO (http://www.math.gatech.edu/aco/) program stronger.

    I think ACO (at Gatech and CMU) is an excellent program with good course requirements. I am still wondering why other universities haven't started similar program yet.

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  10. Yeah. Wish we had an ACO program. Our CS department doesn't offer one graduate level combinatorics or graph theory course. Utter shame.

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  11. Is there any news from theory hiring of other universities this year? who's got the jobs?

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  12. I've always wondered how universities can solve the two body problem outside of their department. Suppose a husband and wife are a computer scientist and a mathematician, respectively, and the CS department wants to hire the husband. What can the CS department do to convince the math department to hire the wife if they weren't already planning on doing so? It seems they have no incentive...

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  13. Which theorist(s) did Michigan hire?

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  14. About two body problems outside the department, often the administration can provide bridge funds to hire the spouse. If the researcher is high quality you bridge into tenure track, otherwise you give them limited term appointments which they can use to prove themselves or as a base from which to apply to other universities in the vicinity (e.g. in the place I work there are over half a dozen other universities within a one hour commute).

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  15. Michigan hired Seth Pettie.

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  16. Santosh must be getting lot more money in gatech than in MIT. Remember, CS departments typically pay more than math departments.

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  17. Santosh must be getting lot more money in gatech than in MIT. Remember, CS departments typically pay more than math departments.

    Generally true, but often not the case for the top three or four Math schools. I have no specific bits on MIT or Santosh though.

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  18. does anybody know when santosh et al are joining gatech ?

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