NSF Brain Initiative Opportunities

As part of the Brain Initiative, there is a new NSF program on Integrative Strategies for Understanding Neural and Cognitive Systems  (NSF-NCS) that can provide opportunities for some CS theory research.  For “Integrative Foundations” proposals submitted direclty to the NSF-NCS program ($500k-$1m over 2-4 years), letters of intent need to be submitted by tomorrow (December 10).  But it is also possible to submit a “Core+Extensions” project as a supplement (up to $100k) to a proposal to another NSF program (such as the Algorithmic Foundations program, deadline January 14 for small proposals).

Bala Kalyanasundaram (bkalyana@nsf.gov) is a good program officer to contact with questions about submitting proposals related to CS theory.

New NSF program: Algorithms in the Field

Research Opportunity from NSF for Algorithms in the Field

Guest post from Tracy Kimbrel, NSF Program Director for Computing and Communication Foundations

The National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Computer Science and Engineering (CISE) recently announced a new program solicitation, Algorithms in the Field (AitF), which aims to promote collaboration between theory researchers and those in more applied areas.

The program originated from interest and excitement among the theory community and researchers in many applied fields during a well-attended workshop held in May 2011.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice in the design, analysis, implementation, and evaluation of algorithms can lead to new fields as well as broader cutting-edge applications. The premise is that by working jointly “in the field” researchers from these different communities will continually inform each other, innovate in their respective areas, and forge algorithms that are simultaneously validated by theory, systems, and applied communities.

The program synopsis reads as follows:

Algorithms in the Field encourages closer collaboration between two groups of researchers: (i) theoretical computer science researchers, who focus on the design and analysis of provably efficient and provably accurate algorithms for various computational models; and (ii) applied researchers including a combination of systems and domain experts (very broadly construed – including but not limited to researchers in computer architecture, programming languages and systems, computer networks, cyber-physical systems, cyber-human systems, machine learning, database and data analytics, etc.) who focus on the particular design constraints of applications and/or computing devices. Each proposal must have at least one co-PI interested in theoretical computer science and one interested in any of the other areas typically supported by CISE. Proposals are expected to address the dissemination of the algorithmic contributions and resulting applications, tools, languages, compilers, libraries, architectures, systems, data, etc.

I want to emphasize that lists of possible “field areas” such as those in the synopsis and other parts of the solicitation are not exhaustive and do not imply any limitation on scope.

NSF looks forward to the new research that will be supported through this endeavor.  The deadline for submissions is February 9, 2015.  Please read the full program solicitation for more information. A webinar will be held December 18, 2014 at 3 pm ET; details will be provided soon on the AitF page.

US-Israel BSF travel grants for PhD students

The US-Israel Binational Science Foundation Prof. Rahamimoff Travel Grants Program for young Scientists is open for submissions. The current deadline is Dec. 3, 2014 and the next deadline will be in the spring of 2015. The program supports research-related travel of PhD students (only) between the U.S. and Israel.

The Call for Proposals and Instructions can be found in the following BSF website page:    http://www.bsf.org.il/ElectronicSubmission/GatewayFormsAndGuidelines.aspx?PageId=7&innerTextID=0

CCC Call for Visioning Proposals

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) invites proposals for visioning workshops that will catalyze and enable innovative research at the frontiers of computing.  Successful activities will articulate new research visions, galvanize community interest in those visions, mobilize support for those visions from the computing research community, government leaders, and funding agencies, and encourage broader segments of society to participate in computing research and education.  Past examples can be found at www.cra.org/ccc/visioning/visioning-activities.

Workshop organizers are expected to bring together a group of scientists and practitioners in the area of interest, and to formulate a program that encourages new ideas, innovative thinking, and broad discussion. Workshops can be of varying sizes, typically ranging from 20 to 100 participants.  It is important that the participants cover a broad spectrum to ensure full coverage of the area, both in terms of content area representation and employment (academia, industry, research labs, and policy and funding organizations).

Workshops are expected to have a tangible output – for example, a whitepaper (or set thereof) or a workshop report. Workshop outcomes should be targeted to multiple audiences (the research community, science policy groups or funding agencies, the general public), and the deliverables should be tailored for easy dissemination.  CCC will help to support both workshop organization and the subsequent generation and communication of the output.

The CCC encourages creative ideas from all segments of the computing research community on topics ranging from the formulation of new basic research areas and technologies to the use of new or existing research ideas and technologies to address important scientific or societal challenges.

For CCC planning purposes, proposals with start dates prior to September 2015 should be submitted by December 1, 2014.

Microsoft Research Response to Open Letter

—–Original Message—–
From: Peter Lee (MSR) [mailto:petelee@microsoft.com]
To: Vadhan, Salil P.
Sent: Tuesday, October 21, 2014 6:24 PM
Cc: Harry Shum; Jeannette Wing

Dear Salil, SIGACT Community, and Colleagues:

Thank you for your letter. We are grateful for the obvious thought and care you have put into expressing the concerns of the research community. It helps all of us in MSR and Microsoft to know that people care deeply about what we do and the health of our organization.

We welcome the invitation to respond. Toward this end, we have posted a note on the MSR Connections Blog at http://blogs.msdn.com/b/msr_er/archive/2014/10/21/harry-shum-open-letter-to-academic-research-community.aspx. We thank you for giving us the opportunity to explain that we share your concerns, and also to state clearly that Microsoft and MSR remain committed to fundamental research, now and into the future. We look forward to continuing the deep partnership between the research community and MSR.

Sincerely,

Harry Shum, Peter Lee, and Jeannette Wing

Letter re closing of Microsoft Research Silicon Valley

The following letter has just been sent to the leadership of Microsoft Research.  Others who wish to express support for the sentiments expressed in the letter may do so by commenting on this blog post.


October 14, 2014

Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Technology and Research
Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President, Head of Microsoft Research
Jeannette Wing, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research
Microsoft Corporation

Dear Harry, Peter, and Jeannette:

By now, you are no doubt aware of the research community’s shock and disappointment at the sudden and harsh way in which the members of the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley lab were dismissed a few weeks ago.  We are writing to share our perspective on the negative impacts of the shutdown and to open a dialogue about the ways in which Microsoft can try to restore the environment that enabled MSR to produce such great research in the past, benefiting both the company and the world.

While layoffs are always unpleasant, the impact of this one has been exacerbated by the fact that many researchers at the Silicon Valley lab worked on long-term, fundamental research of the kind that can be done at very few places outside of academia.  As you know, the academic calendar is such that many of these researchers, including very junior ones who recently completed their PhDs, could be jobless for nearly an entire year. We feel that there should have been a better way to close down this lab, one that would have allowed them to have continuous employment until academic jobs are available again in September 2015. Given that this lab was continuing to produce exceptional — indeed revolutionary — research, we fail to understand why closing it had to be done so suddenly.

Over the past two decades, MSR, and indeed all of Microsoft, earned an excellent reputation in academia as an organization that not only valued basic research but also supported the career development of the many researchers that worked in or visited the labs.  That reputation has been significantly damaged, threatening Microsoft’s ability to recruit and retain world-class researchers.  As faculty members, we can no longer recommend it as highly to our students as a place to start their careers.  In the long term, this move seems likely to adversely affect Microsoft Research (and the positive contributions it makes to Microsoft as a whole) in more ways than any benefit it may have had.

Nevertheless, we believe that Microsoft can reduce the damage that has been caused by the shutdown of the Silicon Valley lab.  We understand that Microsoft is considering ways to help care for the researchers who were dismissed, such as defraying the additional costs of the academic organizations who are trying to provide these researchers with temporary homes. This would be an excellent, and highly appreciated, first step.  Looking forward, we hope that you will open a discussion with us and the community about Microsoft’s vision for industrial research (which has become less clear after the closing of what appeared to be an extremely valuable and successful lab) and concrete commitments MSR can make regarding the career development of its remaining and future researchers.  Steps like these are essential to rebuilding the relationship between Microsoft and the academic community, along with all the mutual benefits that it brings.

Sincerely,

Rajeev Alur, University of Pennsylvania
Paul Beame, University of Washington
Avrim Blum, Carnegie Mellon University
Moses Charikar, Princeton University
Petros Drineas, Rochester Polytechnic Institute
Jeff Erickson, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Joan Feigenbaum, Yale University
Lance Fortnow, Georgia Institute of Technology
Piotr Indyk, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
David Johnson, Columbia University
Sampath Kannan, University of Pennsylvania
Phokion Kolaitis, University of California, Santa Cruz
Vipin Kumar, University of Minnesota
Richard Lipton, Georgia Institute of Technology
Silvio Micali, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Ramamohan Paturi, University of California, San Diego
Dana Randall, Georgia Institute of Technology
Jennifer Rexford, Princeton University
Tim Roughgarden, Stanford University
Holly Rushmeier, Yale University
David Shmoys, Cornell University
Robert Sloan, University of Illinois at Chicago
Diane Souvaine, Tufts University
William Steiger, Rutgers University
Eva Tardos, Cornell University
Luca Trevisan, University of California, Berkeley
Salil Vadhan, Harvard University
Avi Wigderson, Institute for Advanced Study

The drafting of this letter was led by the ACM SIGACT Committee for the Advancement of Theoretical Computer Science, but the letter is signed by a number of people outside that committee and indeed even outside the SIGACT community.  The chair of the committee, Salil Vadhan (salil@seas.harvard.edu), is the contact person for responses to the letter.

Simons Institute 2015-16 Research Fellowships

The Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley invites applications for Research Fellowships for academic year 2015-16.

Simons-Berkeley Research Fellowships are an opportunity for outstanding junior scientists (at most 6 years from PhD by Fall 2015) to spend one or both semesters at the Institute in connection with one or more of its programs.  The programs for 2015-16 are as follows:

* Fine-Grained Complexity and Algorithm Design (Fall 2015)
* Economics and Computation (Fall 2015)
* Counting Complexity and Phase Transitions (Spring 2016)
* Algorithmic Challenges in Genomics (Spring 2016)

Applicants who already hold junior faculty or postdoctoral positions are welcome to apply. In particular, applicants who hold, or expect to hold, postdoctoral appointments at other institutions are encouraged to apply to spend one semester as a Simons-Berkeley Fellow subject to the approval of the postdoctoral institution.

Further details and application instructions can be found at http://simons.berkeley.edu/fellows2015.  Information about the Institute and the above programs can be found at http://simons.berkeley.edu.

Deadline for applications: 15 December, 2014.

Alistair Sinclair
Associate Director, Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing

NSF Secure & Trustworthy Cyberspace solicitation and joint program with US-Israel BSF

(1) The new NSF Secure and Trusthworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) solicitation has been released.  Note that Frontiers (up to $10M) have been replaced by Large (up to $3M) proposals.  The submission deadlines are:

  • Small: January 14, 2015
  • Medium: November 10, 2014
  • Large: November 20, 2014
  • Education:    December 19, 2014

(2) NSF and the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) have developed a collaboration arrangement whereby US researchers may receive funding from the NSF and collaborating Israeli researchers may receive funding from the BSF. Proposals may be submitted to the SaTC Small category, with the identical proposal submitted to BSF to support Israeli collaborators.  Proposals will be reviewed by NSF; those selected for funding will have separate agreements with NSF (for US researchers) and BSF (for Israeli researchers).

Simons Institute Research Fellowships for Summer 2015 Crypto Program

The Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley invites applications for Research Fellowships for the research program on Cryptography that will take place in Summer, 2015.  These Fellowships are open to outstanding junior scientists (at most 6 years from PhD by 1 May, 2015).

Further details and application instructions can be found at http://simons.berkeley.edu/fellows-summer2015.  General information about the Institute can be found at http://simons.berkeley.edu, and about the Cryptography program at http://simons.berkeley.edu/programs/crypto2015.

Deadline for applications: 30 September, 2014.

CCC Call for Visioning Workshop Proposals

[A CCC visioning workshop in 2008 led to the TCS vision nuggets hosted here.  Other CCC visioning workshops help generate new funding programs at NSF and other agencies.  It would be great to have another TCS-oriented visioning workshop, perhaps focused on a particular direction in the field.]

Excerpts from the call for proposals and the CCC website:

The Computing Community Consortium (CCC) invites proposals for visioning workshops that will catalyze and enable innovative research at the frontiers of computing.  Successful activities will articulate new research visions, galvanize community interest in those visions, mobilize support for those visions from the computing research community, government leaders, and funding agencies, and encourage broader segments of society to participate in computing research and education.  Past examples can be found a twww.cra.org/ccc/visioning/visioning-activities.

Workshop organizers are expected to bring together a group of scientists and practitioners in the area of interest, and to formulate a program that encourages new ideas, innovative thinking, and broad discussion. Workshops can be of varying sizes, typically ranging from 20 to 100 participants.  It is important that the participants cover a broad spectrum to ensure full coverage of the area, both in terms of content area representation and employment (academia, industry, research labs, and policy and funding organizations).

The length of the project description should be commensurate with the scope of the proposed activities, but not longer than six (6) pages. *Note that we seek workshops that create visions for broad research agendas, not proposals whose primary purpose is to secure future funding for the participants.

Workshops are expected to have a tangible output – for example, a whitepaper (or set thereof) or a workshop report. Workshop outcomes should be targeted to multiple audiences (the research community, science policy groups or funding agencies, the general public), and the deliverables should be tailored for easy dissemination.  CCC will help to support both workshop organization and the subsequent generation and communication of the output.

For CCC planning purposes, proposals with start dates prior to September 2015 should be submitted by December 1, 2014.
If you have questions, please e-mail us or plan to tune into our webinar on October 2 at 1pm ET.  Please register for the webinar here by 12:00am September 30.

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