Brown University 250th Anniversary Symposium: The Next 250 Years

The official press release for our symposium is available here and more than 200 photos are here. You can click the image at right for a full-sized copy of our poster. Please see below for links to video recordings of all lectures. Capture.PNG

May 12-15, 2015

14 John von Neumann Lectures on Economics, Physics, Computer Science, and Brain and Neuroscience unified by John von Neumann's vision of "Computation as a Scientific Lens"

Organized by the von Neumann Professors "cluster" at Brown and the Office of President Christina Paxson, and hosted by the Department of Computer Science

We acknowledge with gratitude financial support from: the Office of the President, Office of the Provost, Office of the Vice-President of Research, Office of Brown's 250th Anniversary, Department of Computer Science, Department of Economics, Department of Neuroscience, Department of Physics, Center for Computational Molecular Biology, and Department of Biostatistics

All events held in the Computer Science Department

Thomas J. Watson Sr. Center for Information Technology

CIT 368 and Atrium

115 Waterman Street, 3rd Floor, Providence, RI 02912

Directions available at http://www.cs.brown.edu/about/directions

Schedule

John von Neumann Distinguished Lecture Series

Organized by the von Neumann Professors "cluster":

 

Monday, May 11

6:30 PM Dinner Reception at the home of Brown University President Christina Paxson

 

Tuesday, May 12

8:30 AM Continental Breakfast
9:15 AM

Introductory Remarks: Sorin Istrail, Julie Nguyen Brown Professor of Computational and Mathematical Sciences, Symposium Chair; Christina Paxson, President, Brown University; Ugur Cetintemel, Professor and Chair, Department of Computer Science; Marina von Neumann, Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy, University of Michigan ("A View from Johnny's Daughter")

A video recording is available here.

Session 1: von Neumann Lectures on Economics
Chair: Roberto Serrano, Harrison S. Kravis University Professor of Economics
10 AM

Susanne Schennach, Professor of Economics, Brown University ("Learning from Errors")

A video recording is available here.

11 AM

Mark Satterthwaite, A.C. Buehler Professor in Hospital and Health Services Management, Northwestern University ("Designing Economic Institutions: Accomplishments and Constraints")

A video recording is available here.

12:15 - 1:45 PM Lunch, hosted by Provost Vicki Colvin
2 PM

Vince Crawford, Drummond Professor of Political Economy, Oxford University ("Efficient Mechanisms for Level-k Bilateral Trading")

A video recording is available here.

3 PM

Kenneth Arrow, Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and Professor of Operations Research Emeritus, Stanford University ("How the Future Influences the Present")

A video recording is available here.

4 PM

Panel Discussion/Sweatbox Session with Professors Schennach, Satterthwaite, Crawford, and Arrow, co-hosted with Economics Department graduate students

A video recording is available here.

 

Wednesday, May 13

8:30 AM Continental Breakfast
TBD Welcoming Remarks by David A. Savitz, Vice President for Research, Brown University
Session 2: von Neumann Lectures on Physics
Chair: James Valles, Professor and Chair, Department of Physics
10 AM

Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study ("The Blacksmiths")

A video recording is available here.

11:30 AM

Nima Arkani-Hamed, Professor, Institute for Advanced Study ("Quantum Mechanics and Space-Time in the 23rd Century")

A video recording is available here.

12:30 PM Lunch
2 PM

Frank Wilczek, Nobel Laureate in Physics; Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology ("Physics in 100 Years")

A video recording is available here.

3 PM

Leon Cooper, Nobel Laureate for Physics; Thomas J. Watson Sr. Professor of Science (Research); Director, Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, Brown University ("Can Free Will and Locality Exist Together in the Quantum Theory?")

A video recording is available here.

4 PM

Panel Discussion/Sweat Box Sesssion with Professors Dyson, Arkani-Hamed, Wilczeck, and Cooper, co-hosted with Physics Department graduate students

A video recording is available here.

Session 3: von Neumann Lectures on Computer Science
Chair: Sorin Istrail, Julie Nguyen Brown Professor of Computational and Mathematical Sciences
5 PM

Michael Jordan, Pehong Chen Distuinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Department of Statistics, University of California at Berkeley, co-sponsored by the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Biostatistics ("Computational Thinking, Inferential Thinking, and 'Big Data'")

A video recording is available here.

6 PM Sweat Box Session with Professor Jordan, co-hosted with Computer Science Department graduate students

 

May 14

8:30 AM Continental Breakfast
Session 3 (continued): von Neumann Lectures on Computer Science
Chair: Sorin Istrail, Julie Nguyen Brown Professor of Computational and Mathematical Sciences
10 AM

Tom Leighton, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Chief Executive Officer, Akamai Technologies ("Grand Challenges Facing the Internet")

A video recording is available here.

11 AM

Sweat Box Session with Professor Leighton, co-hosted with Computer Science Department graduate students

A video recording is available here.

11:30 AM Lunch
2 PM

Christos Papadimitriou, C. Lester Hogan Professor of EECS, University of California at Berkeley ("Games Johnny Would Play: Computation as a Lens")

A video recording is available here.

3 PM Break
3:30 PM

Leslie Valiant, Turing Award winner, T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, Harvard University ("How Nature Exploits Big Data: Learning and Evolution")

A video recording is available here.

4:30 PM

Panel Discussion/Sweat Box Session with Professors Papadimitriou and Valiant, co-hosted with Computer Science Department graduate students

A video recording is available here.

5:30 - 7:30 PM Brown University graduate students meet symposium speakers at a dinner hosted by Peter Weber, Dean of the Graduate School, co-sponsored by the Center for Computational Molecular Biology
6 PM

Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study ("Memories of Johnny at the Institute for Advanced Study")

A video recording is available here.

7-8 PM Movie screening ("John von Neumann -- Mathematician and More")

 

May 15

8:30 AM Continental Breakfast
9:45 AM Welcoming Remarks by Edward Hawrot, Alva O. Way University Professor of Medical Science, Professor of Medical Science, Associate Dean of Medicine and Biological Sciences, Brown University
Session 4: von Neumann Lectures on Brain and Neuroscience
Chair: Barry Connors, L. Herbert Ballou University Professor of Neuroscience, Professor of Medical Science, Chair of the Department of Neuroscience
10 AM

David Berson, Sidney A. Fox and Dorothea Doctors Fox Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Professor of Neuroscience, Brown University ("The Brain in your Eye")

A video recording is available here.

11:30 AM

Patricia Smith Churchland, UC President's Professor of Philosophy, University of California, San Disego ("Nerve Agents: You and Your Amazing Old-Fangled Reward System")

A video recording is available here.

12:30 PM Lunch
2 PM Panel Discussion/Sweat Box Session with Professors Berson, and Churchland, co-hosted with Neuroscience and Physics Departments graduate students
3 PM Symposium ends

About the von Neumann Lecturers

Nima Arkani-Hamed, Professor, Institute for Advanced Study

Dr. Arkani-Hamed is Professor in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is one of the leading particle physics phenomenologists of his generation, and has been prominent in creating new physical theories currently being tested at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

Kenneth Arrow, Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and Professor of Operations Research, Emeritus, Stanford University

Dr. Arrow, winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Economics, works primarily in economic theory and operations, focusing on areas including social choice theory, risk bearing, medical economics, general equilibrium analysis, inventory theory, and the economics of information and innovation.

David Berson, Sidney A. Fox and Dorothea Doctors Fox Professor of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, Professor of Neuroscience, Brown University            

Dr. Berson’s highly regarded research into the structure and function of the visual system has led to his appointment as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Patricia S. Churchland, UC President's Professor of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego

Dr. Churchland is a pioneer in the field of neurophilosophy, the interface between neuroscience and philosophy. Her work has been recognized with a MacArthur Fellowship, and she was named a Humanist Laureate by the International Academy of Humanism.

Leon Cooper, T.J. Watson Sr. Professor of Science (Research), Nobel Laureate in Physics, Brown University

Dr. Cooper was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1972 (with John Bardeen and J. R. Schrieffer) for the BCS theory of superconductivity; he is also known for his contributions to the BCM theory of synaptic modification.

Vincent Crawford, Drummond Professor of Political Economy, University of Oxford

Vincent Crawford is a world leader in game theory and experimental economics; his main contributions are pervasive in areas in matching theory, communication, and bounded rationality.

Freeman Dyson, Professor Emeritus, Institute for Advanced Study

Among Prof. Dyson’s many accomplishments are his seminal contributions to quantum electrodynamics,  solid-state physics, astronomy, and nuclear engineering. He was awarded the 2000 Templeton Prize for progress in religion and the 2012 Henri Poincaré Prize by the International Mathematical Physics Congress.

Michael Jordan, Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Statistics, University of California at Berkeley

As one of the world’s most influential researchers in machine learning and artificial intelligence, Dr. Jordan’s work has been recognized by the ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award and the IEEE Neural Networks Pioneer Award. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.

Tom Leighton, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Chief Executive Officer, Akamai Technologies

Dr. Leighton co-founded Akamai Technologies in 1998 and served as Akamai’s Chief Scientist for 14 years before becoming the CEO. He is one of the world's preeminent authorities on parallel and distributed algorithms for network applications; his technological achievements at Akamai earned him recognition as one of the Top 10 Technology Innovators in U.S. News & World Report. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.   

Christos Papadimitriou, C. Lester Hogan Professor of EECS, University of California at Berkeley

Christos Papadimitriou is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. His seminal work on algorithms and computational complexity has been recognized through the Knuth Prize for his overall impact of his research on the field of computer science and the Gödel Prize for his work on the foundations of algorithmic game theory.

Mark Satterthwaite, A.C. Buehler Professor in Hospital and Health Services Management, Northwestern University

Mark Satterthwaite is a leading economic theorist and game theorist who has made fundamental contributions to the theory of mechanism design, the theory of incentives, and decentralized markets.

Susanne Schennach, Professor of Economics, Brown University

Susanne Schennach is a world leader in mathematical econometrics, with important work on central econometric problems, including measurement error, factor analysis in nonlinear settings, and empirical likelihood.

Leslie Valiant, Winner of the Turing Award; T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics,Harvard University

Dr. Valiant received the Turing Award for his seminal contributions to the foundations of parallel and distributed computing, algebraic computation and machine learning.

Frank Wilczek, Herman Feshbach Professor of Physics, Nobel Laureate in Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Wilczek was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics (with David J. Gross and H. David Politzer) for the discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of strong interactions.

von Neumann At Brown

71 years ago, John von Neumann lectured at Brown University during the week before April 17, 1934. In a letter to Rudolf Ortvay sent from Princeton, he writes, "We are well, although I am a bit pumped dry, for I held three lectures last week at Yale, Harvard and Brown Universities." (John von Neumann: Selected Letters, edited by Miklos Redei, Miklos Redei editor, American Mathematical Society, History of Mathematics volume 27, 2005)

Brown University 250th Anniversary Symposium: History of the Sweatbox Concept

Funded by the National Science Foundation as a workshop called "Q&A Boot Camp at Brown University: Asking Tough Scientific Questions," the “Sweatbox” session as a didactic concept was inspired by the famous 8-week “Summer Course/Boot Camp on Embryology” at the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hall, MA and the director of the course for 15 years, Professor Eric Davidson of the Division of Biology at California Institute of Technology.  The story goes that invited speakers at this course would talk in the laboratory’s Warm Room and would be subjected there to tough scientific questions about their scientific findings and their claims. Professor Davidson, professor-in-chief of developmental gene regulatory network biology and a beacon of critical discourse, has mentored about 300 PhD students, postdocs and undergraduates in his laboratory. Basing his work on causality-focused and genomics-based systems, and with insights from experimental biology, biochemistry, physics and engineering, he has been bringing together all us biologists, physicists, biochemists, engineers, mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists in a renaissance research quest for the functional meaning of DNA. The resulting symbiosis of insights is von Neumannesque in spirit and fits well with von Neumann’s unfinished research towards a new logical and computational model for the biological cell by unifying continuous and discrete mathematics via a concept of thermodynamic error. Our “Sweatbox” is so named to honor Professor Davidson’s academic legacy.

Acknowledgements

We acknowledge with tremendous gratitude former President Ruth Simmons’ many valuable contributions to the organization of the previous two Symposia in this series, hosted by the Computer Science Department and organized together with the Office of the President. The John von Neumann Days at Brown University Symposium was organized by the von Neumann professor “cluster” in 2010, and the Genome and the Computational Sciences: The Next Paradigms Symposium in 2006.  In particular, with funding from the Office of the President, room 368 of the CIT has just been renovated into a modern 21st-century classroom. We are delighted to have former President Simmons cut the ribbon to the new classroom on the occasion of this Symposium, which continues a tradition co-founded with her office and now enthusiastically supported by President Christina Paxson. These symposia were designed as an “academic cathedral” unified by von Neumann’s vision of “computation as a scientific lens.”  We want to express our admiration and thanks to both Presidents Simmons and Paxson for their inspiring leadership and most generous support.

Questions?

For more information, please contact Symposium Coordinator Suzanne Alden (suzanne_alden@brown.edu, 401-863-6511) or Symposium Co-Chairperson Sorin Istrail (sorin_istrail@brown.edu).