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Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Berkeley Wins the Simons

As reported today in the New York Times, the Simons Foundation has chosen U. C. Berkeley to host the new Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, a $6,000,000/year center for studying core theoretical computer science and its applications to other disciplines. There will be 70 researchers (faculty, postdocs, grad students) at any given time affiliated with the Institute.

This will be a game changer for CS theory.

17 comments:

  1. Good for Berkeley, but it would make more sense if it was somewhere on the east coast.

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  2. Good news. But what do you mean by "TCS and its applications to other disciplines"? By definition TCS is a theoretical discipline whose applications are computer-science applications.

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  3. Anon 2: TCS as studied at Berkeley is an imperial discipline.

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  4. Wow! congrats to Berkeley!

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  5. Anon 2: See Berkeley's Lens conference from last year
    http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/IPRO/lensconference2011/
    There are video links for all of the talks.

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  6. Anon 3: You mean empirical discipline, not an imperial one; unless you are making a metaphor.

    Perhaps Berkeley would prepare themselves to study TCS without P vs. NP. See Prof Laszlo Babai journal review of ZFC inconsistency results and look for any strong argument there.

    Best,

    Rafee Kamouna.

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  7. It's funny; my first reaction was "the 1% keep getting richer..."

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  8. Hmmm … 70 researchers … planetary population 7x10^9 … this means that the Berkeley Simons Institute will support one CS researcher for every one hundred million of Earth's citizens.

    It will be illuminating to see what steps (if any) the Simons Institute directors take to help catalyze CS research that exhibits the "galactic gain" (in Dick Lipton and Ken Regan's happy phrase) that is required to effect positive influence on a planetary scale.

    Successful precedents of galactic gain in STEM enterprises *do* exist … an early paradigmatic example of galactic gain is Harold S. Black's "wave translation system," which back in the late 1920s provided unified foundations in mathematics, technology, and enterprise for Bell Laboratories.

    Are there modern opportunities for CS to conceive/catalyze galactic gains in STEM enterprises? That is a challenging question that the new Simons Institute might usefully attempt to answer.

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  9. oh good, the crank is back

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  10. Two computer-science game-changers:

    IBM lowers US employment by 140,000 since 1998

    • Berkeley Simons Institute opens 70 new positions

    To a young person contemplating a career is CS, which is more of a game-changer?

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  11. well berkeley was where he went for his phd so em, there u go.
    and yes, it would have made more sense for the east coast.

    typically the 1% keeps getting richer.

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  12. Prof John Sidles,

    I suppose young people contemplating a CS career would worry about reality as IBM and other computing giants rather than TCS researchers pre-occupied in proof construction of theorems whose negation can be discovered true as the theorems themselves; we all know.

    Best,

    Rafee Kamouna.

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  13. John S., there are zero new positions being opened, except temporary positions for postdocs and faculty on sabbatical.

    Can somebody explain these "1%" comments? Is the complaint that an already good school is just getting better? Concentration of intellectual resources is nothing like concentration of wealth. It is a good thing. It lets people find collaborators, makes everybody more productive, and makes research more fun. As a side effect, it makes solving academic/non-academic two-body problems easier, too.

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  14. The proportion of IBM's workforce who were educated as computer scientists was very small. That's unlike younger companies like Microsoft, Google, etc. Our CS Bachelors graduates these days are commanding starting salaries that are >$10K above starting salaries even in EE and are remarkably close to faculty starting salaries. Supply-demand price curves tell you that this wouldn't be happening if there weren't huge demand. Indeed if you look at projected need in the workforce, the IT sector dominates every other sector by an order of magnitude.

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  15. Are they going to make it public why they chose Berkeley over other runner ups?

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    Replies
    1. It is not a secret, at least to all the institutions who participated.
      The winner takes it all.
      Go bears!

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