Machinations

Congratulations to Max and Amitabh!
April 22, 2013, 3:48 pm
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One of my major goals as an academic is to fill up a dinner table at PODC with my former students.  This year, Max and Amitabh help me move closer to this goal by winning the academic lottery – both have gotten tenure-track positions at great research-focused CS departments.

Maxwell Young has accepted a position in the CS dept. at Drexel University – an up-and-coming CS dept in Philadelphia.  Max has done great work on designing robust algorithms for sensor networks, most recently developing the new analytic technique of resource competitive analysis.

Amitabh Trehan has accepted a position in the CS dept at Queens University in Belfast, UK.  Amitabh tells me that Belfast was the launching point for the Titanic, so I have big expectations for the arc of his career there.  (I kid Amitabh 🙂  Amitabh designed algorithms for self-healing networks as a PhD student at UNM.  Recently, as a post-doc at Technion, he has done great work in leader-election and game theory.

Congratulations to both Max and Amitabh!  I’m proud to have worked with both of you, and look forward to many successful collaborations to come.

UNM CS Job Opening
October 8, 2012, 5:25 pm
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The Department of Computer Science invites applications for one or more full-time positions at the level of Assistant Professor. An Assistant Professor hire will be a probationary appointment leading to a tenure decision. Appointments at Associate and Full Professor ranks will be considered for extraordinary candidates. Applicants from all areas of computer science will be considered, but preference will be given to candidates in intelligent systems (for example artificial intelligence, machine learning and data mining) or cyber-security. We are a strongly interdisciplinary department and are particularly interested in applicants pushing the boundaries of computer science with other fields.

The Department of Computer Science is committed to excellence in both undergraduate and graduate education offering a CAC ABET accredited BS degree program, as well as MS and PhD programs. With approximately 140 undergraduate and 120 graduate students, we support both a strong core of computer science and interdisciplinary education through programs such as the Program in Interdisciplinary Biological & Biomedical Science (PIBBS) and the Interdisciplinary Film and Digital Media (IFDM) collaboration.

The Department has sixteen tenure-track faculty with research expenditures over \$3.2M per year, through grants from agencies including NSF, NIH, DARPA, ARO, NSA and DOE. We are a collegial and friendly department at a dynamic and exciting stage of growth. We enjoy strong research collaborations with the Santa Fe Institute, and Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories. Our faculty push the boundaries of interdisciplinary research through numerous collaborations with other UNM schools, departments and research centers. For further information see: http://www.cs.unm.edu.

The University of New Mexico is the premier research university in the state of New Mexico. UNM is a Carnegie Very High Research Activity Institution and a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, with nearly 35,000 students on the main and branch campuses. It is located in Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico and one of the fastest growing cities in the Southwest. Albuquerque is an ethnically diverse city with a rich culture and a location offering unparalleled opportunities for outdoor adventure including hiking, biking, rock climbing and skiing in the nearby Sandia and Manzano mountains.

Candidates must have completed a doctorate in CS or a relevant area by August 15, 2013. Applicants should demonstrate a strong commitment to undergraduate and graduate education and the ability to establish a nationally visible research program in one of the areas listed above.

For best consideration, complete applications must be received by December 15, 2012. The position will remain open until filled. Each application must include a cover letter summarizing the applicant.s experience, curriculum vitae, research statement, teaching statement, and four letters of reference. It is the applicant.s responsibility to ensure that letters of reference are submitted before the application deadline.

Applications must be submitted online through UNMJobs.unm.edu, by referencing posting #0817585. Reference letters and inquires should be emailed to faculty_search@cs.unm.edu.

The University of New Mexico is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. We especially encourage members of underrepresented groups to apply.

Jobville Hunting
March 30, 2012, 7:44 pm
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[This is a guest post by my former PhD student Amitabh Trehan.  Amitabh is now finishing up a post doc at Technion and rumor has it that he’s been giving job talks at some of the IIT branches in India (The IITs are like the MITs of India) – Ed]

Matt Damon was a genius janitor solving math problems posted on blackboards in ‘Good Will Hunting’ – I wonder how his character would have done in ‘Job Ville Hunting’!

Well, returning to the reality of us more mortal types, there comes a stage when every PhD student needs to go where they’ve been postponing going before – Jobville. Having been through the process in the recent years and still actively driving around in Jobville, I thought I will summarize my thoughts. I will mostly skip the details of failed attempts, missed deadlines and numerous faux pas in the favor of some well distilled advice. I suppose this will be most useful for students looking for postdoc positions and a career in academia, but some of the advice maybe generally useful too.

What has worked for me so far could be called a social networking approach, though I will not say that I had planned it such. In other words, there may not be a single approach which may work for all, but the bottom line is that if you do good work and you let people know you are a promising candidate, they may open the doors for you. I consider myself fairly lucky in the opportunities I have been given and the appreciation I have received for my work.  Here are some tips.

What works? Personal interaction counts. Be ready to talk, present and travel. If you plan to be in academia, this is going to be the major portion of your professional life anyway. So, start early – meeting people, talking and presenting your work not only helps setup future collaborations and gets people interested in working with you, it may interest them to have you as a postdoc or a faculty closer to their own place of work. Research is an increasingly collaborative venture and even in the age of skype, physical distance counts. But, remember to be enthusiastic and organized. There is another rule of thumb : if interested, send an email. This works for almost anybody in any part of the world, for any job. However, be sincere when you send that mail; do not spam. After all, an academic career is built on reputation.

Now, for some more technical details 🙂

Start early: Yes, yes, we’ve been conditioned to procastinate and that’s why this is even more important. The process takes much longer than you would imagine, so start early. Of course, it’s entirely possible it may not take much time for you to get a postdoc offer (the faculty process may involve more formalities) but even that would happen when you advertise that you are ready. The time you want to start with your warmup exercises  also depends on which part of the world you are interested in going (see the next point). I would suggest getting serious about the process in the summer before the year you plan to be in the market.

Know the global market and application cycles: Less than a decade ago, I had heard that as a CS PhD, you don’t even need a postdoc to be offered a faculty position. That seems to have changed in a hurry. A friend mentioned to me that if somebody had told him finding a faculty postion post PhD would be so tough, he may have settled for a MS and a job in the software industry.

The academic market is now closely related to the global economic conditions as witnessed by the slowdown in the US economy. You may be interested in exploring globally e.g. Europe, Singapore, India. However, different countries have different applications cycles, application rules and procedures (some of which can be pretty frustrating). For example, a postdoc in Israel may be required to start in October (September is the holiday month there) but the positions may be finalized as early as February or March. Similarly, the faculty position openings in the US start advertising in the winter of the previous year whereas in India they may start around March of the year. I also heard the following: In some places (this was in Europe), you may need three independent referees to certify that the place you claimed to have done your PhD from really exists (and the person who endured this is from MIT).

Try to do good work: Though this goes without saying, researchers face a dilemma: quality or quantity? Is ‘publish or perish’ here to stay? A fellow applicant pointed out that it seems that some applicants now have as many papers as seasoned researchers of the past have over their career. However, if you have a few publications in high quality conferences and journals, it is likely to count much more than a host of medium level publications.

Get your thoughts together i.e. the research statement: Very important. Each time you write your research statement, you discover a lot about yourself and your research, even if you discovered a lot about yourself last year! This is another of the items that seems to take forever to write: It seems you should be done tomorrow, but you will remember that you had felt the same a month ago! You also have to maintain a polished CV and teaching statement.

Join mailing lists and websites: You need a source to discover new openings. There are some good resources on the Internet: www.cra.org is a great resource – they have a very useful mailing list called CRA job openings. http://www.mathjobs.org/jobs is another useful place for Computer Scientists – in fact, you can apply through here for many positions using the same set of basic documents (CV, research statement, teaching statement etc).

So, if you are ready to embark on an adventure in jobville, all the best, and remember to try to solve any problems you see written on blackboards! (I am usually too lazy to do that, but you should give it a try 🙂

Cybersecurity Job Opening
December 29, 2011, 5:52 pm
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The following job opening at UNM is a unique opportunity for someone with an interest in Cybersecurity.  Computer Science is certainly an area of interest in this search.  Our new dean of engineering is the former department chair of Computer Science at Washington University, so he “gets” CS.  Deadline is Feb. 6th!

Faculty Positions in Engineering and Computer Science

The School of Engineering at the University of New Mexico invites applications for multiple full-time probationary tenure-track faculty appointments at the rank of Assistant Professor to begin August 1, 2012. Appointment at the associate professor level will be considered for individuals with appropriate qualifications. The appointments will reside in the appropriate SOE Department, one of: Civil Engineering, Chemical and Nuclear Engineering, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering.
We seek applicants from across the engineering and computer science spectrum with expertise in CyberSecurity, Sensing Technologies and Advanced Materials. The successful applicant should have exceptional research credentials and the ability to contribute to the School’s interdisciplinary approach to a wide variety of national challenges relating to the safety and security of physical, social, and digital infrastructures.
Applicants are required to have a Ph.D. in engineering, computer science or a related field by the start date of the appointment. A demonstrated record of research and scholarly achievements; interest and ability to engage in interdisciplinary research and education; a strong commitment to teaching excellence at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; and an expressed interest in mentoring students with diverse backgrounds, are preferred. We seek individuals with clear potential for developing an internationally acclaimed research program and passion for interdisciplinary collaborations.
The University of New Mexico (UNM) is the premier research university in the state of New Mexico. UNM is a Carnegie Very High Research Activity Institution and a federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution, with nearly 35,000 students on the main and branch campuses. The University is located in Albuquerque, the largest city in New Mexico. The Albuquerque metropolitan area is ethnically diverse with over 900,000 residents, and has been listed among the smartest U.S. cities and best places to relocate in America. The city has a rich culture and a location offering unparalleled opportunities for outdoor adventure. The University is located within one hour of Santa Fe and within minutes of the Sandia and Manzano mountain ranges, which offer great opportunities for hiking, biking, rock climbing and skiing.

For best consideration, complete applications must be received by February 6, 2012. The positions will remain open until filled. A complete application consists of 1) a letter of interest; 2) a comprehensive CV; 3) a research statement; 4) a teaching statement; and 5) the names and contact information (address, phone number and email address) of four professional references.
Applications must be submitted online through UNMJobs.unm.edu, by referencing posting #0813676. Academic couples are encouraged to apply.
Inquiries should be sent to: SOE-Faculty-Search@cs.unm.edu
The University of New Mexico has a progressive spousal hiring policy and is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. We especially encourage members of underrepresented groups to apply.

Puzzle
November 28, 2011, 4:45 pm
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One of my graduating PhD students has been interviewing with several big Internet companies (Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc).  One of the benefits of this is that my research group gets to hear many of the new job interview puzzles for this year.  Here’s one of the more interesting ones:

You are given a large array in the form:

$a_1, a_2, \ldots a_n, b_1, b_2, \ldots, b_n$

You want to output an array in the form:

$a_1, b_1, a_2, b_2, a_3, b_3, \ldots, a_n, b_n$

The catch is that you have very little external memory (only O(log n)), so you need to change the array in place.

It’s not too hard to get a solution to this problem that runs in O(n log n) time (think recursion).  But surprisingly, you can do better.  Can you get a linear time solution? Beware: this is harder than it seems!

Postdoc Opportunities
March 11, 2011, 3:10 pm
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A quick post from Gopal Pandurangan who has 2 postdoc positions at NTU in Singapore:

I just recently got a grant from Singapore govt. for research in distributed algorithms. I am looking for postdocs (2 slots are there).  May I please request you to publicize in your blog the contents of the following link: http://www.ntu.edu.sg/home/gopal/postdoc.html [quoted below]

Multiple postdoctoral positions (official title: “Research Fellows”) are available, starting April 2011, in the Division of Mathematical Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. All recent Ph.D.s (or those close to finishing) who work in theoretical computer science with a focus on one or more of the following areas are encouraged to apply: randomized/probabilistic algorithms, distributed algorithms/computing, approximation algorithms, network algorithms, communication complexity, and other related areas in algorithms. Experience in prior work in algorithms area as evidenced by publications in top algorithms and theory conferences is desired. All candidates with strong publication record in theory and algorithms (e.g., SODA, FOCS, STOC, PODC, SPAA, DISC) are encouraged to apply.

Initial appointment will be for one year with the possibility of renewal for an additional year based on performance and availability of funds. Salaries are competitive and are determined according to the successful applicants’ accomplishments, experience and qualifications. Travel funding is available.

The Mathematical Sciences Division at NTU has a vibrant research group in theoretical computer science, with several faculty, post-doctoral research fellows, and Ph.D. students from all over the world.

The candidates should send their CV, a brief research statement, and two letters of recommendation to Prof. Gopal Pandurangan (gopalpandurangan@gmail.com).

Singapore is a highly developed country and is well situated and connected. The quality of living is very high (with per capita income among the top 5 in the world), while the cost of living compared to developed countries is relatively low.

Job opening
September 21, 2010, 8:19 pm
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The UNM CS department is looking for a new Chair.  The search is now
officially open.  We would really like to get a strong researcher who can raise the profile of the department, as opposed to just someone moving into administration.

We are an up-and-coming department, with a Theory group consisting of
me (distributed computing), Tom Hayes (Markov chains and on-line
algorithms), Cris Moore (quantum computing), Shuang Luan (approximation
algorithms and computational geometry) and Deepak Kapur (automated
reasoning, and recent recipient of the Herbrand Award).  We also have
strengths in biologically-inspired computing (Stephanie Forrest,
Melanie Moses), molecular computing (Darko Stefanovic), security (Jed
Crandall), high-performance computing (Dorian Arnold), machine
learning (Terran Lane), graphics (Joe Kniss), and other areas as well.
And, New Mexico is a great place to live.

Details are at unmjobs.unm.edu (click on faculty jobs).  The deadline for best consideration is 11/15.