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Congratulations, Noam

October 5, 2016

The winner of the 2016 ACM-IEEE Knuth Prize

Coursera source

Noam Nisan has been one of the leaders in computational complexity and algorithms for many years. He has just been named the winner of the 2016 Donald E. Knuth Prize.

Today we congratulate Noam and highlight some of his recent contributions to algorithmic economics and complexity.
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A Creeping Model Of Computation

September 25, 2016

Local rules can achieve global behavior


Sarah Cannon is a current PhD student in our Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization program working with Dana Randall. Sarah has a newly-updated paper with Dana and Joshua Daymude and Andrea Richa entitled, “A Markov Chain Algorithm for Compression in Self-Organizing Particle Systems.” An earlier version was presented at PODC 2016.

Today Ken and I would like to discuss the paper, and relate it to some recent results on soft robots.
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A Proof Of The Halting Theorem

September 19, 2016

Toward teaching computability and complexity simultaneously

Large Numbers in Computing source

Wilhelm Ackermann was a mathematician best known for work in constructive aspects of logic. The Ackermann function is named after him. It is used both in complexity theory and in data structure theory. That is a pretty neat combination.

I would like today to talk about a proof of the famous Halting Problem.
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How Hard, Really, is SAT?

September 4, 2016

A new longest computer proof makes us wonder about things from security to the Exponential Time Hypothesis


Marijn Heule, Oliver Kullmann, and Victor Marek are experts in practical SAT solvers. They recently used this ability to solve a longstanding problem popularized by Ron Graham.

Today Ken and I want to discuss their work and ask a question about its ramifications.
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Descending Proofs Into Algorithms

August 28, 2016

A way to make indirect reasoning more palpable

Wikimedia Commons source

Nicholas Saunderson was the fourth Lucasian Professor at Cambridge, two after Isaac Newton. He promoted Newton’s Principia Mathematica in the Cambridge curriculum but channeled his original work into lecture notes and treatises rather than published papers. After his death, most of his work was collected into one book, The Elements of Algebra in Ten Books, whose title recalls Euclid’s Elements. It includes what is often credited as the first “extended” version of Euclid’s algorithm.

Today we raise the idea of using algorithms such as this as the basis for proofs.
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A Surprise For Big-Data Analytics

August 14, 2016

A simple but interesting issue with analyzing high-dimensional data


Peter Landweber, Emanuel Lazar, and Neel Patel are mathematicians. I have never worked with Peter Landweber, but have written papers with Larry and Laura Landweber. Perhaps I can add Peter one day.

Today I want to report on a recent result on the fiber structure of continuous maps.

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Do results have a “teach-by-date?”

August 9, 2016

Teaching automata theory


Noam Chomsky is famous for many many things. He has had a lot to say over his long career, and he wrote over 100 books on topics from linguistics to war and politics.

Today I focus on work that he pioneered sixty years ago.

Yes sixty years ago. The work is usually called the Chomsky hierarchy(CH) and is a hierarchy of classes of formal grammars. It was described by Noam Chomsky in 1956 driven by his interest in linguistics, not war and politics. Some add Marcel-Paul Schützenberger’s name to the hierachry. He played a crucial role in the early development of the theory of formal languages—see his joint
paper with Chomsky from 1962. Read more…