Invidual residences

DEVDATT DUBHASHI

From Friday, 1 February 2019 to Friday, 15 February 2019

DEVDATT DUBHASHI
University professor
Gothenburg

Bio

Devdatt Dubhashi is Full Professor of Computer Science at Chalmers University Sweden. He holds a PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University. His main research area is algorithms and machine learning. He has served as an external expert to the OECD on Data Driven innovation and has led several national and international projects in machine learning and related areas.

Project

We (Gerardo SchneiderAlessandro Panconesi and I) are writing a popular science book on the legacy of Alan Turing, the father of Computer Science. The Turing Award is an annual award to recognize the achievements of computer scientists, and in our book we explain some central ideas of computer science shaping the world today and how they developed from ideas of Turing and the Turing prize winners. 

Due to our daily professional commitments we have not been able to meet to work together in the project. Faber will provide us with the unique opportunity to meet to work in an undisturbed and dedicated manner towards completion of the book.

Thinking about Turing at Faber

We came to Faber to develop our project writing a book “Turing’s Children: How his ideas have shaped our world” commissioned by Oxford University Press. Turing is well known to people today thanks to the movie “The Imitation Game” which centered on his work during World War II breaking the German codes. This played a major role in bringing the war to an end sooner than it might have last otherwise and thus potentially saved millions of lives. From the movie, we know that he was homosexual (suffering a lot to existing laws) and had no biological children. “Turing’s Children” refers to his five great ideas which laid the foundations from which Computer Science was born and which shapes our modern world so profoundly that we could hardly think of lives without them. Our book tries to explain these ideas and their impact in our everyday lives  to a curious lay reader. 

Our project had been stalling a bit due to the everyday rush of things at work which left hardly any time for the thinking and reflection needed to achieve the necessary clarity of ideas. Also two of us are in Gothenburg while the third author is in Roma, so we were also looking for an opportunity to meet at one place to take stock and deliberate. A colleague at our university mentioned Faber and we thought this was a perfect opportunity! It was a pleasant surprise to see how easy it was to be in contact with Faber and arrange very quickly for a visit. 

Arriving at Faber, we were delighted to see that all our expectations were fully realized! It offered the perfect setting where one could work undisturbed and in comfort, with a magnificent vista over the mountains, with plenty of opportunities to take a break and recharge the mind. Our day started with a leisurely breakfast at 8 followed by several hours of writing and discussion. Then at lunch time, we took the opportunity to visit the beautiful surrounding landscape and interesting medieval cities, or simply taking an after-lunch walk. We then got the needed physical stimulation to go back and continue the writing and discussion. We highly appreciate the flexible schedule and freedom to pursue our goal at our own rythm. 

It was also very interesting to meet people from other programs at Faber and discuss each others’ projects from different areas.

The hotel has all the needed facilities for a calm working place. Last but not least, it was a great pleasure to interact with Faber’s staff: Francesc, Gavina and Pau, who were always friendly and supportive. An extremely valuable and positive experience, both from the human and the professional point of view. 

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