Professor Animashree (Anima) Anandkumar has been recognized by the New York Times “good tech” awards as a leading Artificial intelligence (A.I.) researchers who uses “ technology to help others in real, tangible ways.” The New York Times article states, “Artificial intelligence will be one of the most important areas of computer science in the coming years. It’s also one of the least diverse. Just 12 percent of A.I. researchers are women, and the number of black and Latino executives in the field is vanishingly small… Anandkumar, Nvidia’s director of machine learning research and a professor at Caltech, saw that the name of the A.I. field’s marquee annual event — the Neural Information Processing Systems conference, or NIPS — had been used as fodder for sexist jokes. So she started a #ProtestNIPS campaign to change the name, and drew up a petition that gathered more than 2,000 signatures. Eventually, the conference’s board relented, and the event is now abbreviated as “NeurIPS.” It was a small gesture of inclusion that could go a long way toward making women feel more welcome in the field for years to come.” [NYTimes article] [Tensorial-Professor Anima on AI]
In a recent Techer interview Electrical Engineering alumna Fei-Fei Li (PhD ’05) explains, “As we see artificial intelligence impacting the real world, it’s no longer a niche computer science, technical field. Policymakers, business leaders, educators, social scientists—they all need to take part and guide the future of A.I.” [Check out the full interview]
"Projections with current climate models—for example, of how features such as rainfall extremes will change—still have large uncertainties, and the uncertainties are poorly quantified," says Professor Tapio Schneider, principal investigator of the Climate Modeling Alliance (CliMA). "For cities planning their stormwater management infrastructure to withstand the next 100 years' worth of floods, this is a serious issue; concrete answers about the likely range of climate outcomes are key for planning." The new climate model will be built by a consortium of researchers led by Caltech, in partnership with MIT; the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS); and JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA. It will use data-assimilation and machine-learning tools to improve itself in real time, harnessing both Earth observations and the nested high-resolution simulations. "The success of computational weather forecasting demonstrates the power of using data to improve the accuracy of computer models; we aim to bring the same successes to climate prediction," says Professor Andrew Stuart. [Caltech story]
President Thomas F. Rosenbaum’s end of the year message to the Caltech community highlights the InSight spacecraft landing and the celebration of Frances Arnold’s 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He states, “these recent events … underscore the extraordinary technological acumen that is necessary to realize the implications of big ideas. The Institute is known throughout the world for its mastery of fundamental science, but it is the connection of these fundamental precepts to engineering innovation that sets Caltech apart.” [Read the full message]
Caltech has awarded the inaugural Milton and Rosalind Chang Career Exploration Prize to EAS undergraduate alumnus, Sean McKenna (BS ’17, ACM) for his proposed project “Exploring Ways to Tackle California’s Housing Crisis.” McKenna plans to spend the next year connecting with residents, housing developers, homeless shelters, technology innovators, and policymakers in California and Washington, DC to learn more about the roots of the housing crisis. He is grateful for the “incredible amount of freedom" the Chang Prize will give him "to figure out how the skills and passions I developed at Caltech might translate into making a difference in the housing crisis, a problem that is very real for me, other Techers, and all residents of California.” [Alumni Association story]
Thanks to Professor Pietro Perona and his graduate students including Grant Van Horn and Sara Beery, the next wildlife photo you snap might set you on a path to helping map life on Earth. “The whole web, this huge repository of wonderful information, is indexed by words,” Perona says. “But when we have an image—a visual query—we don’t know what to do unless there is an expert next to us. We’ve gotten so numb to the idea that we’ll never find the answer out.” [Breakthrough story]
Alumnus Yong Sheng Soh (PhD ’18, ACM), advised by Professor Venkat Chandrasekaran, has won the 2018 INFORMS Optimization Society Student Prize for his paper entitled Learning Semidefinite-Representable Regularizers. Regularization-based algorithms are widely used in the solution of data-driven inverse problems arising in statistics, operations research, signal processing, and machine learning. These approaches typically require a great deal of prior domain-specific expertise about the structure of the underlying problem. Such expertise is especially challenging to obtain in the modern era of 'Big Data' in which our ability to sense all manner of phenomena and produce massive datasets far exceeds our ability to understand the underlying mechanisms governing the phenomena. In his award-winning work, which has been accepted for publication at the Journal of the Foundations of Computational Mathematics, Yong Sheng has developed a new framework for learning suitable regularization methods directly from data rather from human-provided expertise. [INFORMS Optimization Society Award] [Read the paper]
Alan Barr, Professor of Computer Science, and Peter Schröder, Shaler Arthur Hanisch Professor of Computer Science and Applied and Computational Mathematics, have been elected to the first class of the ACM SIGGRAPH Academy. Professor Barr was selected for his contributions to graphics, primarily for extending computer graphics shape modeling to include physically based and teleological modeling. Professor Schröder was recognized for his pioneering work in geometry processing and multiresolution modeling. The ACM SIGGRAPH Academy is an honorary group of individuals who have made substantial contributions to the field of computer graphics and interactive techniques. These are principal leaders of the field, whose efforts have shaped the disciplines and/or industry, and led the research and/or innovation in computer graphics and interactive techniques. [Full list of academy members]
Researchers from Caltech and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are collaborating in Pasadena to foster a relationship that could change the landscape of artificial intelligence (AI) research in Southern California. “Our graduate programs train extraordinarily talented future researchers, who mostly leave Pasadena after completing their PhD." An industry research center located nearby, however, can help retain talent locally, says Professor Pietro Perona one of the architects of the new collaboration. "Together, we can build a critical mass of machine-learning and AI researchers right here in Pasadena.” Primarily affiliated with Caltech via the CMS Department of the EAS Division, AWS will provide summer internships for Caltech students and students of other top universities, job opportunities for alumni, and the potential for collaborations between Caltech and AWS researchers. AWS is also contributing funding for Caltech projects and a pipeline for marketable research. AWS has already committed $2.5 million to Caltech for graduate student fellowships and cloud-computing credits in order to seed AI innovations. [Caltech story]
Starting in fall 2018, EAS will offer students a new undergraduate degree option in a field that is at the forefront of computer science: information and data sciences (IDS). Mathematics will form the backbone of the new option. Students in IDS will take core courses focusing on machine learning, information theory, probability, statistics, linear algebra, and signal processing. After that, they will have the opportunity to branch out with electives that cover applications of data sciences to science and engineering. Professor Adam Wierman hopes the creation of this new option will prepare both students and Caltech for the future. "It almost doesn't matter what you're interested in. If you want to make discoveries and be on the cutting edge of your field, you're going to need the skills to analyze and manipulate large collections of information," he says. [Caltech story] [Degree option details]
A day-long event focused on providing startups and companies with a chance for meaningful interactions with undergraduate and graduate students, providing students with an opportunity to find out more about the breadth of applications for computing and mathematical sciences across industries.
Carver Mead New Adventures Fund
The afternoon featured technical talks from Carver Mead New Adventures Fund recipients, alumni, and Carver Mead himself! Since 2014, this Fund has championed exceptional projects in their earliest stage of development – too early to attract industry or government support. This characteristic embodies Carver’s approaches and practices, with a continued goal to expand Carver’s daring approach to research and innovation throughout the Caltech campus. We highlighted some of the adventurous research that has been explored by grants made possible by this initiative with you.
IST Meeting of the Minds
A day-long research conference featuring talks, laboratory open houses, and poster presentations by distinguished faculty, graduate students, undergraduates, and researchers from JPL showcasing the latest and most exciting work that is underway in CMS.