2015 KAG Graduate Student Travel Fund Recipients

Arturo Fernandez-Zuniga:

I would like to thank the KAG travel grant for supporting my educational journey to the 2015 Gene Golub Summer School on Randomization in Numerical Linear Algebra. From June 15th to the 26th, top researchers lectured scholars from all of the world on the increasingly important subject as well as encouraged us tackle new and open problems in the field.
The European Cultural Center of Delphi provided a great environment for the summer school allowing us to focus our knowledge as well as learn about Greek culture and history. The lectures were quite interesting as Petros Drineas, Ilse Ipesen, Michael Mahoney, and Ken Clarkson all provided accessible, yet thought-provoking discussions. In particular, Ken provided a great explanation of the streaming perspective into the input-sparsity time randomized algorithms. Moreover, Michael suggested a few topics that now have interested me with respect to the application of randomized algorithms to more general machine learning problems.
This was all made possible thanks to the KAG fund. The local costs were covered by the program, but I was able to offset the cost of the flight through the fund. Thanks you again for this amazing opportunity!

Soeren Kuenzel:

I would like to thank the KAG travel grant for making my participation at the Machine Learning Summer School at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen, Germany possible. 
The summer school took place for the forth time in Tübingen. I was one of the lucky 100 participants who got admitted to the summer school, where 25 top researcher from aground the globe gave us insights in their fields through lectures, workshops and bonfire conversations. I managed to participate in all events and gained a broad overview in the field of statistics, machine learning and robotics. 
In addition, I gave a short introduction on random forest and presented a poster on statistical reinforcement learning. This was very motivating, because I realized that a lot of people are actually interested in this topic. 
Besides the talks, workshops and poster presentations, we also had an excellent social program. I learned how to navigate a punt boat, observed Saturn through a telescope, balanced 30 meters over the ground in a high wire garden and, most importantly, I befriended passionate researchers in my field from all continents. 
Thank you again for making this eye-opening event possible!

Miklos Racz:

I am very thankful to the KAG travel grant for supporting my attendance at the 2015 Information Theory and Applications Workshop. This is a conference held yearly in early February at the Information Theory and Applications Center located on the campus of UC San Diego. It brings together researchers and students working in a wide variety of fields, loosely connected by information theory. To illustrate the breadth of topics present, let me mention that the plenary talk on Wednesday was by Christof Koch, who explained the work and goals of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, while on Thursday we heard from Cynthia Dwork about differential privacy and false discovery control, and from Alvin Roth about market design. When not attending one of the six parallel sessions, it was great to talk to old acquaintances and meet new ones. 
On Wednesday of the week-long conference there was a Graduation Day event, where graduate students and postdocs gave talks and poster presentations about their work. As part of this event, I presented a poster titled "From trees to seeds: on the inference of the seed from large random trees" on my recent work with Sebastien Bubeck, Ronen Eldan, and Elchanan Mossel. This was a great experience. I have been encouraged by the positive feedback I received, and I hope to pursue some of the interesting questions that were raised during discussions. 
I highly recommend that graduate students in the department apply for the KAG travel grant, as its generous support will enable you to attend a conference you might not otherwise have funds for. Thank you once again!

Siqi Wu:

I would like to thank the KAG Graduate Student Travel fund for supporting my participation in the 2015 Joint Statistical Meetings (JSM). As known to many, the JSM is the largest annual gathering of statisticians from around the globe. This year, JSM was held August 8-13, in the beautiful coastal city of Seattle. 
The meetings attracted more than 6,000 researchers. Event activities included oral presentations, poster presentations, panel sessions, career fair and many more. I had the great opportunity to deliver a 25min talk on my research project in a session called "Recent Developments in Machine Learning and Data Mining". My talk, entitled "Local Identifiability of L_1-Minimization Dictionary Learning: A Sufficient and Almost Necessary Condition", was based on a recent joint-work with my advisor Professor Bin Yu. For me this was a great experience. I ended up knowing quite a few people interested in my research. 
The JSM was a great venue for networking. I reunited with my old friends I hadn't met for years. The Berkeley reception reminded me of the many great statisticians our department has educated.  The cruise trip sponsored by Google allowed me to know many more new friends while enjoying the great food and breathtaking view of night Seattle. Of course, everyone loved the dance party, with a band featuring one of the most popular members of our department.
The 2015 JSM was an unforgettable trip for me. However, my journey would not be possible if not for the funding from the KAG grant. I am very grateful for such a generous support. I would also like to encourage my fellow graduate students to consider applying for this award for their travel. Thank you again!