Wednesday, October 18, 2017

2018 Alan Turing Institute Doctoral Studentships

Doctoral research in data science: studentships to begin in autumn 2018. The application deadline is midday on 30 November 2017.

Here is a link to the full advertisement, with details about what the studentships offer.

I’m on the 2018 Turing supervisor list and received an email suggesting to circulate the advert.

Monday, September 25, 2017

JOB: Associate Professorship of Algorithms and Complexity Theory, Oxford

Associate Professorship of Algorithms and Complexity Theory with Tutorial Fellowship at Hertford College


Applications are invited for the post of Associate Professor (or Professor) of Algorithms and Complexity Theory to be held in the Department of Computer Science with effect from 1 October 2018. The successful candidate will also be appointed as Fellow and Tutor in Computer Science at Hertford College; Tutors being responsible for the organisation and teaching of their subject within the College.

The salary for this position is offered on a scale from £46,336 per annum, plus substantial additional benefits, including single accommodation at college, if available, or a living-out allowance of £9,437 pa. An allowance of £2,700 pa would be payable upon award of Full Professor title.

The Department of Computer Science is a vibrant and growing academic department, which has a research profile across the entire spectrum of contemporary computing. The Associate Professor will be expected to engage in independent and original research in the field of Algorithms and Complexity Theory, to secure funding and engage in the management of research projects and disseminate research of the highest international standard through publications, conferences and seminars. They will also will contribute to teaching on the Department’s highly successful undergraduate and graduate programmes. Oxford has a strong tradition in Algorithms and Complexity Theory, with multiple active faculty members in the Computer Science, Information Engineering, and Statistics departments.

The Associate Professor will be a member of both the University and the college community. They will be part of a lively and intellectually stimulating research community with access to the excellent research facilities which Oxford offers. They will have a role to play in the running of the College as a member of the Governing Body and a trustee of the College as a charity.

The successful candidate will hold a doctorate in Computer Science, or a related subject, will have the ability to teach across a range of Computer Science subjects, and will also have a proven research record of high quality at international level in the area of Algorithms and Complexity Theory, and experience of research collaborations at both national and international level.

The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon on 5 January 2018. Interviews will be held on 13 February 2018 – please allow a full day for these.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

WINE 2017 : Conference on Web and Internet Economics

A reminder about the 13th WINE conference:

Link to conference web site
Link to Call for Papers (deadline is 2nd August 2017)

Over the past decade, research in theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, and microeconomics has joined forces to tackle problems involving incentives and computation. These problems are of particular importance in application areas like the Web and the Internet that involve large and diverse populations. The Conference on Web and Internet Economics (WINE) is an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of ideas and results on incentives and computation arising from these various fields. WINE 2017 builds on the success of the Conference on Web and Internet Economics (named Workshop on Internet & Network Economics until 2013), which was held annually from 2005 to 2016.

The program will feature invited talks, tutorials, paper presentations, and a poster session. All paper submissions will be peer-reviewed and evaluated on the basis of the quality of their contribution, originality, soundness, and significance. Industrial applications and position papers presenting novel ideas, issues, challenges and directions are also welcome. Submissions are invited in, but not limited to, the following topics:

Algorithmic Game Theory
Algorithmic Mechanism Design
Auction Algorithms and Analysis
Computational Advertising
Computational Aspects of Equilibria
Computational Social Choice
Convergence and Learning in Games
Coalitions, Coordination and Collective Action
Economic Aspects of Security and Privacy
Economic Aspects of Distributed Computing
Network Games
Price Differentiation and Price Dynamics
Social Networks

More details are at the conference web site.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

new idea for TEF

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) attempts to measure teaching quality by looking at a collection of metrics obtained from universities, and universities recently received (provisional) gold/silver/bronze ratings. Metrics include NSS scores, dropout rates, and employment destinations. An article in the Times Higher on “what makes a gold university”, notes that TEF scores correlate poorly with REF scores but well with NSS scores. An article in the Guardian noted “critics argue that none of the indicators directly measure teaching quality”. Here, I suggest as a new metric, the salaries of people doing the teaching.

I thought of this metric from reading the Guardian article, which quotes Universities minister Jo Johnson as saying that TEF is supposed to give teaching the same status as research. Salary is a good measure of status. As a measure of quality, the general principle (of judging the value of something in terms of what you put in rather than what you get out) is widespread elsewhere: institutions measure research in terms of research funding received, and similarly, buildings, other infrastructure projects, and company bosses are commonly described in terms of their cost (treating cost as a proxy for value, or quality).

Specifically, I recommend using the median salary of members of staff involved with teaching. (Note, I suggest the median, not the mean.) Concerning what it should mean to be involved with teaching, there are various options, since the median is fairly robust to tampering with the data. One option is to just let every member of staff assess the extent of his/her own level of teaching as a fraction of their work.

Overall, the effect of this metric would be to encourage universities to save money on central administration and other expenses. Talking of which, this Guardian article on the high profit margins in academic publishing is well worth reading. It does a good job of explaining the historic background to the problem, and the bad incentives that cause so much to be spent on academic journals.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Brexit and Rubinstein’s bargaining model

A Google search for Brexit and game theory finds a number of web pages that discuss models of the negotiation process, constructing payoff matrices in which the parties to the negotiation choose to cooperate (or not) over issues such as free movement of people; these models aim to predict the outcome of the negotiations. The models are rather simplistic, but are probably more realistic than the efforts by certain members of government to treat Brexit as a game of poker.

Rubinstein’s classic paper Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model (wikipedia page) models a negotiation between 2 players who have to share a pie; there is no limit on the number of rounds, but there’s a cost of delaying, which in one version consists of a player’s discounting factor, which is the rate at which the value of (a share of) the pie goes to zero, each time a round of bargaining takes place without agreement. It could possibly be taken to represent a situation following the March 2019 deadline, supposing that no agreement has been reached, and both sides suffer ongoing economic costs while an agreement is being constructed. The “pie” would consist of the collection of (many) issues that have to be resolved in favour of one side or the other.

Suppose player 1 (the UK) has a discounting factor δ1 and player 2 (the EU) has discounting factor δ2. (δi denotes the fraction of value of remaining after a round, not the fraction lost.) According to the model, the UK’s share of the pie should be (1-δ2)/(1-δ1δ2). It just remains for us to decide the values of these discounting factors, and we’re in good shape to figure out what share of the pie the UK should accept before the deadline expires.

According to this page, Britain depends on the EU for half of its exports, while Britain accounts for only one-sixth of Europe’s. If we give the UK a discounting factor of 1/2 and the EU a discounting factor of 5/6, we get that the UK should receive 2/7 of the pie — so, not the lion’s share. Still, those discounting factors may look harsh; there’s more to life than exports to our geographical neighbours. Let’s average them with 1, and use δ1=3/4 and δ2=11/12. In that case, the UK’s share of the pie unfortunately goes down to 4/15, and I don’t think it gets any better when you adjust them further! To conclude, the UK should cave in on most of the issues that need to be resolved in a Brexit settlement. As the above-mentioned web page notes (based on a different model): The EU has an incentive to offer a bad deal, and the UK has an incentive to take it.

Friday, April 28, 2017