Simons Foundation Funding Opportunities

The Simons Foundation announced a new round of funding opportunities, including:

  • Simons Collaborations in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences
    (LOI Deadline: October 1, 2015)
  • Simons Symposia Program
    (Application Deadline: November 6, 2015)

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.

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 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.

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