DIMACS seeking an Associate Director

The DIMACS Center at Rutgers University (dimacs.rutgers.edu) is seeking an Associate Director. DIMACS facilitates research, education, and outreach in discrete mathematics, computer science theory, algorithms, mathematical and statistical methods, and their applications.  The Associate Director is expected to play a leadership role in planning, developing, and running DIMACS activities and programs, including setting new directions.  A PhD in computer science, mathematics, operations research, statistics, or a related field is preferred. Applicants with a doctorate will be considered for Associate Director with a non-tenure-track calendar-year research faculty appointment at Rutgers. Highly qualified applicants without a doctorate will be considered for a staff appointment as Assistant Director. For more details, visit dimacs.rutgers.edu/AssociateDirector.

DARPA Proposer’s Day on Privacy this Thursday (registration deadline tomorrow!)

DARPA is planning to start a new program to fund privacy research.  They are holding a “proposer’s day” this Thursday to share information about the program.  If you wish to attend, the registration deadline is tomorrow (Monday 3/9) 8am!

Good year to hire in CS theory

It’s hiring season and many departments are in the midst of deciding who to bring in for interviews.   When discussing the possibility of hiring theorists, here are a couple of reasons why this might be a particularly good year to do so:

1) This year there is an exceptionally strong and deep pool of theorists on the job market, due in part to the closing of the Microsoft Research Silicon Valley lab.  Many departments should be able to hire strong candidates (including ones not from MSR SV) who would be hard to get in a typical year.

2) Theory has a large role to play in many of the current priority areas for hiring, such as big data, machine learning, privacy, and security.  Many theorists can also serve as bridges to other departments, such as math, physics, economics, OR, EE, and more.

New theory jobs website

The CATCS setup a new website to post information on positions such as postdoc, faculty, teaching fellows for theoretical computer scientists, the website is http://cstheory-jobs.org/ (this replaces the old webpage at the center for Computational Intractability that was hacked over the summer). It is rather rudimentary, but hopefully it still gets the job done, and it is connected to the Theory of Computing Blog Aggregator.

I encourage people to use this to post information about availability for academic positions. I think this should be particularly useful for postdoc positions. I think oftentimes graduating students are not aware of which universities have postdoc positions, especially since in most institutions availability tends to change from year to year. So, if you are looking for postdocs in theoretical CS, please do post that information on the website. Posts should be short but describe the duration of the position and the deadline to apply, together with a link that points out to additional information.

Salil, Moses and Boaz

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.


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.


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 Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences

The Simons Foundation has issued a call for proposals for their new program Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences.  The aim of the program is to “stimulate progress on fundamental scientific questions of major importance in the broad area of mathematics, theoretical physics, and theoretical computer science.”  An example is the Simons Collaboration on Algorithms and Geometry.

Grant sizes are up to $2.5m/year for 4 years (which can be extended to 7 years).  Letters of intent are due by October 31.

CATCS Presentation at STOC

Here is the CATCS Report from the STOC 2014 business meeting.  Of particular note are the following upcoming deadlines:

The NSF CRII program is new and was discussed during the NSF presentation at STOC.  This program provides graduate student support for new faculty who have not received grants before. It can help one get a research program started and enable a more competitive submission to the CAREER program in the future.  Contrary to initial announcements, the program is not restricted to US citizens, permanent residents, and nationals.  More information can be obtained form the 7/28 webinar or by contacting the program directors.




NSF Exploiting Parallelism & Scalability deadline 2/24

A reminder that the deadline for the NSF Exploiting Parallelism and Scalability (XPS) program is February 24.

Theorists who work on issues related to parallel computing are encouraged to consider applying to XPS program.  See the solicitation, the webinar by Tracy Kimbrel, and the FAQ for more information.

NSF CISE FY2014 Budget Request and Priorities

From: CISE Announcements [mailto:CISE-ANNOUNCE@LISTSERV.NSF.GOV] On Behalf Of Jahanian, Farnam
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:20 AM
Subject: NSF CISE FY2014 Budget Request and Priorities

Dear Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Community,

Yesterday, the President delivered the Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Budget Request to Congress. I am pleased to share with you the key figures from the President’s FY2014 budget request for the National Science Foundation and the CISE Directorate. The Administration is requesting a total of nearly $7.6 billion dollars for NSF, which is an increase of $593 million, or about 8.4 percent, over the FY 2012 NSF Enacted Level. The Request also includes an increase of $85 million, or 9.8 percent, over the FY 2012 Enacted Level for the CISE Directorate, for a total of $950 million. For more information on the NSF FY 2014 budget, see: http://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2014/index.jsp.

For more than six decades, NSF has had a profound impact on our Nation’s discovery and innovation ecosystem by funding transformative research that has pushed forward the frontiers of knowledge.  As the only Federal agency dedicated to the support of basic research and education in all fields of science and engineering, NSF enables discoveries across a broad spectrum of scientific inquiry. In its mission to promote progress in computer and information science and engineering research, education and infrastructure, CISE will continue to cast a wide net, letting the best ideas surface. We ask you — members of the CISE research, education, and infrastructure community — to send your most transformative ideas to one of CISE’s four divisions – Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (ACI), Computing and Communications Foundations (CCF), Computer and Network Systems (CNS), and Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS).

The CISE FY 2014 Request is shaped by investments in core research, education and infrastructure programs as well as investments in a cross-cutting portfolio that aligns closely with national priorities and societal challenges. In this message, I wish to emphasize four specific areas: 1) CISE foundational research; 2) cross-cutting areas of exploration; 3) advanced cyberinfrastructure; and 4) education and workforce development.

Expansions of CISE Foundational Research: I wish to take this opportunity to reaffirm CISE’s strong commitment to its core programs in all areas of computer and information science and engineering.  Specifically, I want to focus on two highly complementary foundational research programs launched last year — Core Techniques and Technologies for Advancing Big Data Science and Engineering (BIGDATA) and eXploiting Parallelism and Scalability (XPS). In partnership with all other NSF directorates, CISE is leading the BIGDATA program in its second year. The goal is to address fundamental big data challenges, whose solutions may have wide applicability across a broad range of science and engineering domains. In XPS, the goal is to support groundbreaking research leading to a new era of parallel computing. XPS seeks research re-evaluating, and possibly re-designing, the traditional computer hardware and software stack for today’s heterogeneous parallel and distributed systems and exploring new holistic approaches to parallelism and scalability.

Cross-cutting Investments led by CISE: CISE leads a number of cross-cutting programs, which catalyze foundational research and, in many cases, cross over multiple NSF directorates.  Secure and Trustworthy Cyberspace (SaTC) is a partnership with the Directorates for Education and Human Resources (EHR), Engineering (ENG), Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), and Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE); it seeks to protect the Nation’s critical infrastructure, including the Internet, from a wide range of threats that challenge its security and reliability. The Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) program (with ENG) aims to deeply integrate computation, communication, and control into physical systems and to engineer complex “smart” cyberphysical systems. All NSF directorates are participating in Cyber-enabled Sustainability Science and Engineering  (CyberSEES), which is a partnership with the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC); it aims to advance interdisciplinary research in which the science and engineering of sustainability are enabled by new advances in computing, and where computational innovation is grounded in the context of sustainability problems. Through programs such as the Innovation Corps (I-Corps), CISE will continue to foster public-private partnerships to accelerate transfer of knowledge from lab to practice to benefit society.

CISE is also actively engaging in several cross-agency initiatives and programs. For example, the National Robotics Initiative (NRI) is a partnership with three other agencies — NASA, NIH, and USDA – as well as three other NSF directorates — ENG, EHR, and SBE. The goal is to develop the next generation of collaborative robots that promise to enhance personal safety, health, and productivity. Smart and Connected Health is a newly formed partnership between NSF (including CISE, ENG, and SBE) and six institutes at the National Institutes of Health (NIH); it aims to accelerate the development and use of innovative approaches that would support the much-needed transformation of healthcare from reactive and hospital-centered to preventive, proactive, evidence-based, person-centered and focused on well-being rather than disease.

Advanced Cyberinfrastructure: Cyberinfrastructure has increasingly become a critical component of the R&D ecosystem.  Realizing the enormous potential of cyberinfrastructure requires a long-term, bold, sustainable, and comprehensive approach.  In FY 2014, CISE, in partnership with all NSF research directorates, will increase its investments in the Cyberinfrastructure Framework for 21st Century Science and Engineering (CIF21) programs. The goal is to develop and deploy comprehensive, integrated, sustainable, and secure cyberinfrastructure (CI), accelerating a new era in scientific discovery and engineering innovation, thereby transforming our ability to effectively address and solve the many complex problems facing science and society. NSF-wide investments include Data Infrastructure Building Blocks (DIBBs), BIGDATA,  Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation (SI2), and Computational and Data-Intensive Science and Engineering (CDS&E). 

With the launch of Stampede and Blue Waters, NSF continues to make significant investments in advanced cyberinfrastructure as well as in research and education networks, including the Campus Cyberinfrastructure – Network Infrastructure and Engineering (CC-NIE) Program and Global Environment for Network Innovations (GENI), a virtual laboratory for exploring future internets at scale.

Education and Workforce Development: In FY 2014, it is estimated that CISE will support approximately 20,800 people across the spectrum from undergraduate and graduate students to postdoctoral fellows and senior researchers. CISE reaffirms its commitment to education and workforce programs, including CAREER and Graduate Research Fellowships, which support early-career researchers and contribute to the development of future generations of scientists and engineers.  In collaboration with several other Directorates, including EHR and SBE, CISE will grow its investments on research in cyberlearning and online education, promising to integrate advances in technology with advances in what is known about how people learn. This is an important area of inter-disciplinary exploration with enormous potential to transform formal and informal education.

CISE continues its focus on STEM-C Partnerships (formerly, the Computing Education for the 21st Century (CE21) program) in order to increase the pool of students and teachers who develop and practice computational and data competencies in a variety of contexts and to prepare more students to pursue degrees in computing, computation, and data-intensive fields of study. 

As a field of inquiry, computer and information science and engineering has a rich intellectual agenda.  Foundational research seeds new programs that keep our community at the frontiers of knowledge and discovery. I invite you to work with us to ensure that our Nation remains at the forefront of advances in science and engineering research, education, and infrastructure.

Best regards,


Farnam Jahanian
Assistant Director for CISE
National Science Foundation
email: fjahania@nsf.gov
web: http://www.nsf.gov/cise/about.jsp



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