Monday, April 18, 2022

1-week long Summer School for Ugrads Interested in Theory, and my comments on it

Recently a grad student in CS at UMCP emailed me the following email he got,  thinking (correctly) that I should forward it to interested ugrads. 


Are you interested in theoretical computer science including topics like algorithms, cryptography, machine learning, and others? If so, please consider applying to the New Horizons in Theoretical Computer Science week-long online summer school! The school will contain several mini-courses from top researchers in the field. The course is free of charge,and we welcome applications from undergraduates majoring in computer science or related fields. We particularly encourage applications from students that are members of groups that are currently under-represented in theoretical computer science.

Students from previous years have shared with us that the mini-lectures, online group activities, and interactions with other students and the friendly TAs were extraordinarily engaging and fun.

For full consideration, please complete the application (it’s short and easy!) by April 25, 2022. The summer school will take place online from June 6 to June 10.

Please see our website for details: see here 

Any questions can be directed to


A few points about this

1) I emailed them asking `why do people need to apply if its online and free?'

I had one answer in mind, but they gave me another one

Their Answer: They want to have SMALL online activities in groups. If they had X students and want groups of size g then if X is large, X/g may be too large. 

My Answer: If people REGISTER for something they are more likely to actually show up. (I know of a conference that got MORE people going once they had registation, and even MORE when they began charging for it.) 

2) I emailed them asking if the talks will, at some later point, be on line. They will be. I then realized that there are already LOTS of theory talks online that I have not gotten around to watching, and perhaps never will. Even so, the talks on line may well benefit people who goto the summer school if they want to look back and something. 

3) Online conferences PROS and CONS:

PROS: Free (or very low cost), no hassle getting airfare and hotel, and if talks are recorded then you can see them later (that applies to in-person as well). 

CONS: Less committed to going to it. Can go in a half-ass way. For example, you can go and then in the middle of a talk go do your laundry. Being FORCED to be in a ROOM with the SPEAKER may be good. Also, of course, no informal conversations in the hallways.  Also, less serendipity. 

I want to say It would to be good to see talks outside of my area however, this may only be true for easy talks, perhaps talks in a new field, OR talks that are just barely outside my area so I have some context. 

4) I was surprised I didn't get the email directly since I have more contact with ugrads (and I have this blog) then the grad student who alerted me to it. However, I have learned that information gets to people in random ways so perhaps not to surprising. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot (both) for the post!

    I honestly had a feeling something is coming towards TCS, apart from STOC and others.