Applying theory to practice (and practice to theory)

  • Date/Time
    Date(s) - 19/04/2016
    2:30 pm - 3:30 pm

    Auditorium 2, Taub Building (CS)

    Categories No Categories

    TCE Henry Taub Distinguished Visitor

    Ronald Fagin

    Tuesday 19/04/2016 14:30 Room Auditorium 2 Taub Bld.
    Host: Benny Kimelfeld

    Applying theory to practice (and practice to theory)
    The speaker will talk about applying theory to practice, with a focus on two IBM case studies.  In the first case study, the practitioner initiated the interaction. This interaction led to the following problem.  Assume that there is a set of "voters" and a set of "candidates", where each voter assigns a numerical score to each candidate.  There is a scoring function (such as the mean or the median), and a consensus ranking is obtained by applying the scoring function to each candidate's scores.  The problem is to find the top k candidates, while minimizing the number of database accesses. The speaker will present an algorithm that is optimal in an 
    extremely strong sense:  not just in the worst case or the average case, but in every case!  Even though the algorithm is only 10 lines long (!), the paper containing the algorithm won the 2014 Goedel Prize, the top prize for a paper in theoretical computer science.

    The interaction in the second case study was initiated by theoreticians, who wanted to lay the foundations for "data exchange", in which data is converted from one format to another.  Although this problem may sound mundane, the issues that arise are fascinating, and this work made data exchange a new subfield, with special sessions in every major database conference. This talk will be completely self-contained, and the speaker will derive morals from the case studies. The talk is aimed at both theoreticians and practitioners, to show them the mutual benefits of working together. 

    Bio of speaker:
    Ronald Fagin is an IBM Fellow at IBM Research – Almaden.  IBM Fellow is IBM's highest technical honor. There are currently around 90 active IBM Fellows (out of over 400,000 IBM employees worldwide), and there have been only around 250 IBM Fellows in the over 50-year history of the program.  Ron received his B.A. in mathematics from Dartmouth College and his Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a Fellow of IEEE, ACM, and AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science). He has co-authored four papers that won Best Paper Awards and three papers that won Test-of-time Awards, all in 
    major conferences He was named Docteur Honoris Causa by the University of Paris. He won the IEEE Technical Achievement Award, IEEE W. Wallace 
    McDowell Award, and ACM SIGMOD Edgar F. Codd Innovations Award (a lifetime achievement award in databases). He is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    Refreshments will be served from 14:15
    Lecture starts at 14:30