How to share your brain
Speaker: Dimitris Achlioptas, Full Professor National & Kapodistrian University of Athens Department of Computer Science
Date: 07 October 2011 Time: 15:00 - 16:30
Location: Seminar room I - FORTH
Host: Youla Faturu, CARV, ICS- FORTH


For some of the searches we perform on the web we often feel that (i) there must exist a person in our wider social circle with direct relevant knowledge, (ii) who, upon request, would provide us with much more accurate and tailored information. Yet, how many of us know (and can recall) the islands visited by each of their friends, so as to know who to ask for a good place to stay in Folegandros? Or, what is a good source for micro-roasted coffee beans in Heraklion?

This talk is motivated by two observations. The first is that to solve the problem above, it is not necessary for each of us to externalize their brain content in natural language. It suffices instead that we each "publish a table of contents" for the part of our brain we wish to share. The second observation is that each of us can build such a table in a light-weight and privacy preserving manner, by leveraging existing web search technology. A concrete proposal for such a table-building mechanism is the main subject of the talk.

Note: the talk does not require any prior knowledge of web-related algorithms, semantic web technologies, etc. Instead, the fist half of the talk attempts a historical overview of information transfer methods and the role played in them by indirection (including the role of Gutenberg in the Cypriot issue).


Dimitris Achlioptas joined the Department of Informatics and Telecommunications of the University of Athens as a Professor of Algorithm Design in 2010. From 1998 to 2005 he was with Microsoft Research in Redmond, WA and since 2005 with the Department of Computer Science of UC Santa Cruz. In theory, his expertise lies in the interaction between randomness and computation and his work on that topic has appeared in journals including Nature, Science, and the Annals of Mathematics. For that work he has received an NSF CAREER award, a Sloan Fellowship, and an IDEAS Starting Grant from the European Research Council. In practice, he likes to think about scalability questions and holds 18 US Patents on topics ranging from load balancing and cache optimization to web search personalization. In his free time he enjoys overworking.

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