## ITCS’2018 and more

My good friend Yael Tauman Kalai asked me to share the following announcement (which is the only part of this post that she’s responsible for):

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to draw your attention to the upcoming ITCS (Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science ) conference, which will be held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA from January 11-14, 2018, with a welcome reception on January 11, 2018 at the Marriott Hotel in Kendall Square.  Note that the conference will run for 4 full days (ThursdaySunday).

The deadline for early registration and hotel block are both December 21, 2017.

ITCS has a long tradition of holding a “graduating bits” event where graduating students and postdocs give a short presentation about their work. If you fit the bill, consider signing up — this is a great chance to showcase your work and it’s just plain fun. Graduating bits will take place on Friday, January 12 at 6:30pm.

In addition, we will have an evening poster session at the Marriott hotel on Thursday, January 11 from 6:30-8pm (co-located with the conference reception).

For details on all this and information on how to sign up, please check out the ITCS website:  https://projects.csail.mit.edu/itcs/

In unrelated news, apologies that my entire website was down for a day! After noticing that my blog was often taking me like two minutes to load (!), I upgraded to a supposedly faster Bluehost plan. Let me know if you notice any difference in performance.

In more unrelated news, congratulations to the people of Alabama for not only rejecting the medieval molester (barely), but—as it happens—electing a far better Senator than the President that the US as a whole was able to produce.

One last update: my cousin Alix Genter—who was previously in the national news (and my blog) for a bridal store’s refusal to sell her a dress for a same-sex wedding—recently started a freelance academic editing business. Alix writes to me:

I work with scholars (including non-native English speakers) who have difficulty writing on diverse projects, from graduate work to professional publications. Although I have more expertise in historical writing and topics within gender/sexuality studies, I am interested in scholarship throughout the humanities and qualitative social sciences.

If you’re interested, you can visit Alix’s website here. She’s my cousin, so I’m not totally unbiased, but I recommend her highly.

OK, one last last update: my friend Dmitri Maslov, at the National Science Foundation, has asked me to share the following.

NSF has recently posted a new Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) inviting proposal submissions under RAISE mechanism, https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2018/nsf18035/nsf18035.jsp.  Interdisciplinarity is a key in this new DCL.  The proposals can be for up to \$1,000,000 total.  To apply, groups of PIs should contact cognizant Program Directors from at least three of the following NSF divisions/offices: DMR, PHY, CHE, DMS, ECCS, CCF, and OAC, and submit a whitepaper by February 16, 2018.  It is a somewhat unusual call for proposals in this respect.  I would like the Computer Science community to actively participate in this call, because I believe there may be a lot of value in collaborations breaking the boundaries of the individual disciplines.

### 17 Responses to “ITCS’2018 and more”

1. James Cross Says:

I had thought at one point to mention the slowness but then I figured it was some transient issue with Bluehost.

But odd thing is what caused the previous slowdown because slowness was never a major issue until the last few weeks or so. Have you had an uptick in page hits or did Bluehost change something to slow the site down?

2. Scott Says:

James #1: I was wondering the same thing. Certainly I was reticent about paying Bluehost hundreds of dollars more per year, if it’s only to solve a problem that Bluehost itself created. And then I was angry that what I got for those hundreds of dollars is that my entire site went down for a day, and I had to call Bluehost repeatedly before they’d even look into it, because “the DNS needs time to update” — until they finally did look at it and lo and behold, it had nothing to do with the DNS needing time, it was just something they had to fix on their end. And the main thing they did on the call was try to get me to pay even more money for some anti-malware system.

But I digress. The truth is, I can’t think of anything that changed a few weeks ago that would’ve made my site load much slower. (There’s the sad end of Net Neutrality, but that’s only happening this week!) I had to make the LaTeX plugin load on every page to get the equations to display correctly in my big numbers post, and that could certainly have slowed things down—but it was also way more than 2-3 weeks ago. So I don’t know what changed.

3. Raoul Ohio Says:

I certainly hope that the Alabama election is a harbinger of rejecting buffoonery at the top level of US politics. In this case, the fact that the cowboy suited dirtball clearly had no idea how to ride a horse in his stunt probably lost him a lot of rural voters.

4. James Cross Says:

#2

Just curious but have you considered WordPress.com for hosting?

You can have your own domain with them and, although they have gone up in price a little for that, it still looks like a tremendous bargain. Malware, upgrades, all the nuts and bolts of having a website are done by them and you just configure appearance and post.

The answer from Bluehost about DNS needing time (although completely wrong about the issue) would lead me to suspect they moved you to different server and didn’t configure something correctly.

5. Scott Says:

James #4: Thanks. As it happens, I communicated several months ago with the WordPress Concierge team, which very generously gave me free tech support, and offered to transfer my site to WordPress.com free of charge. But the sticking point was that I have a lot of stuff on my site other than the blog, and apparently everything would need to be converted to WordPress format (straight HTML isn’t supported). Even so, I’ll certainly keep this in mind the next time Bluehost disappoints me!

6. kg Says:

While I agree that Roy Moore going down is unambiguously better than him getting elected (to those who say that this will force Republicans to shape up and maybe do better in 2018, thus being an overall negative, I say that a somewhat Republican party that understands that there’s a limit to what their supporters will allow is better for America than a Republican party that does not), it’s somewhat disturbing to me that the worst judge ever, who thinks the fourteenth amendment was a mistake, who thinks that life was best in America when slavery existed, who almost certainly molested children, got over 48% of the vote.

This guy is the argmin over all politicians of general quality, and tribalism almost was enough to get him to win.

7. Scott Says:

kg #6: Yes, of course, the sigh of relief one breathes is “merely” the kind one would’ve breathed had Trump narrowly lost in 2016, had the gun fired at you by the intruder in your house mysteriously jammed, had a nuclear war been averted only because Kim Jong Un had a heart attack while giving the orders. There’s still the terror of how close we came to having a senator whose values are openly, explicitly those of the Taliban modulo the prophet.

Incidentally, though, with Trump or Roy Moore, the fact that they strike reasonable people as “the argmin over all possible candidates” (great line btw) is not some freakish coincidence; it’s the entire key to their appeal. It’s the proof that they’re not part of the despised establishment, that their steering wheel in the game of Chicken is ripped out, that they really are just going to swing an axe wild-eyed at the entire edifice of reason and decency and thought and sense, which is exactly what maybe a third of the country wants.

8. Domotor Palvolgyi Says:

My reader (igHome.com) doesn’t get the RSS feed anymore. I’ve tried to set it up again, but no use, it displays nothing. This made me suspicious enough to visit the site, but who knows how many people see no new feed with other readers and will never ever visit this site again for losing the feed!

9. Scott Says:

Domotor #8: I see; thanks for bringing the problem to my attention. I confess that I haven’t even thought about this blog’s RSS feed for a decade. So, quick followup questions, for you and anyone else who mainly uses RSS:

– Anyone else having this problem?

– What URL do you use to access the RSS feed? I just tried https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?feed=rss2, and it seemed to work fine.

– Anyone have any ideas how to start to begin troubleshooting this? (Is the issue essentially that, after the blog was down for a day, some RSS readers just decide that the blog is gone for good, and refuse to reconnect even after it’s back up?)

10. Douglas Knight Says:

11. Chris Says:

Hey Scott, so off topic, but what do you think of the quantum computing work being done at IBM and some of the latest articles that have been written about it?

12. Scott Says:

Chris #11: It’s already come up in the comments of recent posts. I think IBM and Google are the two leaders right now in integrating large numbers of high-quality superconducting qubits. I’ve had the opportunity to visit IBM’s Yorktown Heights QC folks many times, most recently this summer—it’s a fantastic group. IBM seems poised to demonstrate quantum supremacy with about 50 qubits in the near future, and I wish them success in that endeavor.

Having said all that, I wasn’t thrilled that IBM appears to have rushed out an announcement about having a 50-qubit device with no accompanying paper or technical details—seemingly in a bid to upstage Google. In this business, everything comes down to details: what can you demonstrate about the fidelity of your qubits? What can you do with the qubits, and what evidence do you have that it’s hard to simulate classically? Expecting scientists to react to a press release, and popular articles based off the press release, is the way of D-Wave. IBM is better than that.

From what I can gather, there seems to be a superb QC research effort that continues apace at IBM, but then also a premature push from above to monetize and hype-ify that effort. So, here’s hoping that the scientists and engineers at IBM get the time they need to do their work.

13. Chris Says:

Thanks Scott, appreciate the response, and sorry if I missed that it was mentioned somewhere else. Yeah, I think many engineers at IBM feel that exact same way.

On a side question in regards to research, I was wondering if you’ve ever looked into Quantum Information Retrieval, and what’s been done in applying Quantum Theory to Information Retrieval? If you have, I’m wondering if you have any specific recommendations for areas of study or investigation? I currently work in industry in Information Retrieval, but preparing to go back to grad studies in a phd program and hoping to focus on Theoretical Information Retrieval and thinking a lot about what specific topic of research I’d like to focus on. I’ve been reading a number of the early papers and books to get an introduction to Quantum Information Retrieval and find it fascinating how well it seems to work as a theoretical model for understanding IR.

Sorry, I’m sure you get comments/questions like this all the time so no worries if you don’t have time to respond… thanks…

14. Shmi Says:

FWIW, https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?feed=rss2 doesn’t work on my ighome.com, either. Shows a blank tile. Must be some ighome peculiarity.

15. Domotor Palvolgyi Says:

Yeah, I also use https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?feed=rss2 on ighome.com. I wonder why they are not compatible, all other feeds work fine.

16. Scott Says:

Chris #13: There are many lines of research that could plausibly be described as “quantum information retrieval.” Maybe the first thing that springs to mind is the work on quantum private queries by Giovannetti, Lloyd, and Maccone. If you pointed me to a specific problem or direction that interested you, I might be able to help you more.

17. Daniel Seita Says:

An alternative to RSS feeds is to use MailChimp, which is what we use at the Berkeley AI Research blog. People sign up with their email and get emails when we get new posts.

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