Keynote Speaker: Pascal Van Hentenryck

The CompCon 2013 Committee is proud to announce our first keynote speaker, Professor Pascal Van Hentenryck!

Pascal will be speaking on Saving Lives with Computational Thinking. This talk presents a number of projects in health care and disaster management where computational thinking dramatically improves human and social welfare. It also explains why these problems are extremely challenging computationally and gives a brief overview of some of the problem-solving methodologies to approach them.

Pascal Van Hentenryck leads the Optimisation Research Group at National ICT Australia (NICTA), the centre of excellence for ICT research in Australia. Van Hentenryck is the recipient of two honorary degrees and is a fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. He was awarded the 2002 INFORMS ICS Award for research excellence at the intersection of operations research and computer science, the 2006 ACP Award for research excellence in constrain programming, the 2010-2011 Philip J. Bray Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Brown University, and is a 2013 IFORS Distinguished speaker. Van Hentenryck is the author of five MIT Press books and has developed a number of innovative optimization systems that are widely used in academia and industry. He also teaches a successful and innovative massively online course on discrete optimization (check it out on YouTube!).

Van Hentenryck has recently been appointed to the position of Strategic Chair in Data Intensive Computing at the Australian National University.

CompCon 2013 will be held from 28-30 September 2013. Early bird registrations are still open!


Speaker Profile: Buck Shlegeris

Buck Shlegeris is an undergraduate computer science student at ANU (and also the Director of Sponsorship for CompCon 2013!). His interests are varied, and range from the highly theoretical (How hard is the median instance of the halting problem?) to the practical (How should I make this GUI have a right click menu?). In his spare time, he writes music for his band Buck et al.

Buck will be speaking on The algebraic behaviour of data structures. His talk description is below:

"Data structures have a rich algebraic structure which hasn't really been properly explored. To start with, I'll explain the isomorphism between set size expressions and immutable data structures. I'll explain how differentiation leads to the zipper over a mutable data type, and what zippers are.

Then, we'll get to the interesting stuff. There's a correspondence between data structures and context-free grammars, which is really cool.

In software engineering, we talk about contracts and class invariants. We can carefully select data structures such that these class invariants and contracts are ensured by the type system.

We can describe problems in combinatorics as questions about abstract data structures. I'll exposit this.

Most of this presentation is not original. However, the isomorphism between this algebra and context free grammar is original as far as I know."


Introducing: Bob Williamson

Professor Bob Williamson is the leader of the Machine Learning group at NICTA.

He received a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from the Queensland University of Technology in 1984 and a Masters of Engineering Science (Electrical Engineering) from the University of Queensland in 1986. In 1990 he obtained a PhD in Electrical Engineering from the University of Queensland. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. He joined the Australian National University as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Systems Engineering in 1990 and held a series of appointments before becoming a professor and head of the Computer Sciences Laboratory, Research School of Information Sciences and Engineering at the Australian National University. From 2003 to early 2006 Professor Williamson was the Director of NICTA’s Canberra Research Laboratory. In 2006 he was appointed as NICTA's Scientific Director. Since 2011 he has been leading the Machine Learning group. He is a member of the advisory board of the National Institute of Informatics (Japan) and was previously a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. His scientific interests include signal processing and machine learning.

He will be presenting on Machine Learning and Big Data and will give an overview of machine learning problems that arise in the area of big data. He will present some example projects that NICTA is using machine learning to solve a range of real-world problems, and outline some of the exciting research challenges that remain.


Introducing: Rajeev Gore

Professor Rajeev Gore is the leader of the Logic and Computation Group at the ANU Research School of Computer Science.

Rajeev did his BSc and MSc at the University of Melbourne and did his PhD at the University of Cambridge, England, in 1992. He was a post-doc at the University of Manchester, UK, from 1992-1994. He has been at the ANU since 1994, first as a Research Fellow, then as an Australian Research Council Queen Elizabeth II Fellow and finally as a researcher in the Research School of Computer Science. He is currently the leader of the Logic and Computation Group.

Rajeev will be speaking about Practical Reasoning About the Real World Using Formal Logic. He will present an outline of how logic can be used to solve real-world problems ranging from digital circuit verification to reasoning about legal documents. The technical content requires only basic first-year knowledge about logic, and he will introduce all the rest.


Introducing: Michael Still

Over the next few weeks, we'll be introducing some of our speakers - beginning with a local Canberran open source developer, Michael Still!

If you're interested in speaking at CompCon, our Call for Proposals is still open - submit now!

Michael Still is a Nova and Oslo core reviewer at Rackspace, where he works on the Open Source OpenStack project as part of the Private Cloud team. He spends most of his time hacking on the libvirt virtualization layer in OpenStack Nova.

Before joining Rackspace in 2012, Michael spent six years as a Site Reliability Engineer at Google and one year as an Operations Engineer at Canonical. In both roles, he was responsible for maintaining and improving web systems with millions of users. He was also the director for linux.conf.au 2013, the largest Open Source conference in Australia.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Engineering with first class honours from the University of Canberra in Australia, where he lives with his wife, three kids and a ludicrous number of pets. In his spare time, he enjoys reading bad science fiction and working on OpenStack development.

Michael will be talking about OpenStack Nova.

OpenStack Nova is the compute portion of the OpenStack open cloud project. That means that Nova is responsible for booting your virtual machines and then managing them once they're booted. Nova supports a variety of hypervisors, as well as pluggable software defined networking. This talk will cover a quick over view of Nova, and then deep dive into how the libvirt hypervisor driver works.

Due to its openness and popularity, Nova makes a good choice for cloud and cluster computing research. There are around 800 active developers on OpenStack, and a community which is helpful and friendly.