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September 30, 2014Night pic of MIT dome.


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Building 46 Map

Neural Representations of Language Meaning

September 30, 2014, 4-5:30 PM

Tom M. Mitchell: E. Fredkin University Professor and Chair of the Machine Learning Department
School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University

Host: Prof. Tomaso A. Poggio
Host Affiliation: CBMM, BCS, MIBR, CSAIL, LCSL

How does the human brain use neural activity to create and represent meanings of words, sentences and stories? One way to study this question is to give people text to read, while scanning their brain, then develop machine learning methods to discover the mapping between language features and observed neural activity. We have been doing such experiments with fMRI (1 mm spatial resolution) and MEG (1 msec time resolution) brain imaging, for over a decade. As a result, we have learned answers to questions such as “Are the neural encodings of word meaning the same in your brain and mine?”, “Are neural encodings of word meaning built out of recognizable subcomponents, or are they randomly different for each word?,” and “What sequence of neurally encoded information flows through the brain during the half-second in which the brain comprehends a single word, or when it comprehends a multi-word sentence?” This talk will summarize some of what we have learned, newer questions we are currently working on, and will describe the central role that machine learning algorithm play in this research.

Tom M. Mitchell founded and chairs the Machine Learning Department at Carnegie Mellon University, where he is the E. Fredkin University Professor. His research uses machine learning to develop computers that are learning to read the web, and uses brain imaging to study how the human brain understands what it reads. Mitchell is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a Fellow and Past President of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). He believes the field of machine learning will be the fastest growing branch of computer science during the 21st century.

MIT general map location link

Rattle & Shine: Compact binary coalescences and their multiple signals

September 30, 2014, 4-5 PM

Luis Lehner
Perimeter Institute

The coalescence of a compact binary system produces among strongestgravitational wave signals and represents a key source for the near future detection ofgravitational waves. Such systems should also produce powerful electromagnetic emissions as well as neutrinos. This talk with discuss theoretical efforts towards predicting different signatures from these systems and their connection with current and near future observations.

MIT general map location link

On the Optimization of Submodular Functions---Convergence Results and Concurrency Control

September 30, 2014, 12-1 PM

Michael I. Jordan
Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor
Department of EECS Department of Statistics
University of California, Berkeley

Research on distributed machine learning algorithms has focused primarily on one of two extremes---algorithms that obey strict concurrency constraints or algorithms that obey few or no such constraints. Taking a page from the database literature, we consider an intermediate alternative in which algorithms optimistically assume that conflicts are unlikely and if conflicts do arise a conflict-resolution protocol is invoked. We view this "optimistic concurrency control" (OCC) approach as particularly appropriate for learning problems which include discrete structural variables and which are combinatorial in nature. We explore the OCC paradigm in two rather different problem domains---Bayesian inference under combinatorial stochastic process priors and the maximization of non-monotone submodular functions. [Joint work with Xinghao Pan, Joseph Gonzalez, Stefanie Jegelka, Tamara Broderick, and Joseph Bradley.]

Michael I. Jordan is the Pehong Chen Distinguished Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the Department of Statistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Masters in Mathematics from Arizona State University, and earned his PhD in Cognitive Science in 1985 from the University of California, San Diego. He was a professor at MIT from 1988 to 1998. His research interests bridge the computational, statistical, cognitive and biological sciences, and have focused in recent years on Bayesian nonparametric analysis, probabilistic graphical models, spectral methods, kernel machines and applications to problems in distributed computing systems, natural language processing, signal processing and statistical genetics. Prof. Jordan is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has been named a Neyman Lecturer and a Medallion Lecturer by the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He received the David E. Rumelhart Prize in 2015 and the ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award in 2009. He is a Fellow of the AAAI, ACM, ASA, CSS, IEEE, IMS, ISBA and SIAM.

Building E51

One of a Series: MIT Energy Initiative

Energy Strategy in an Uncertain World--Postponed to a later date TBD

September 30, 2014, 4:30 PM

Susan Eisenhower
CEO & Chairman
The Eisenhower Group, Inc. (EGI)

In a rapidly changing-- and increasingly dangerous-- geopolitical environment, the United States has developed a strategy for meeting the twin challenges of energy reliability and climate change—with an “all of the above” approach. But does this nation’s energy objectives reflect and address what is actually unfolding outside of Washington DC, as we become increasingly reliant on natural gas, while nuclear plants are being shuttered? Are we adequately preparing ourselves for a green future?

Susan Eisenhower will discuss the political realities in the nation’s capital, and offer some thoughts about what should be done to bring about a more coherent national approach to one of the country’s most important sectors.

About the speaker
Susan Eisenhower is the CEO and Chairman of The Eisenhower Group, Inc. (EGI), a Washington D.C. based consulting company founded in 1986. For more than twenty-five years the company has provided strategic counsel on business development, public affairs and communications projects. EGI has advised Fortune 500 companies, not just in the United States, but also abroad—in China, Russia, Central Asia and Western Europe for such companies as American Express, IBM, Coca Cola, AES, Alcoa, and General Electric.

In addition to her work through EGI, Susan Eisenhower has also had a distinguished career as a policy analyst. She is Chairman Emeritus at the Eisenhower Institute of Gettysburg College, where she served as president twice. She has also been a Fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics and a Distinguished Fellow at the Nixon Center, now called the Center for National Interest.

Over the years, she has served as a member of three blue ribbon commissions for the Department of Energy for three different secretaries: The Baker-Cutler Commission on U.S. Funded Non-Proliferation Programs in Russia; The Sununu-Meserve Commission on Nuclear Energy; and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which released its findings on a comprehensive program for the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle in the winter of 2012. She was also appointed to the National Academy of Sciences Standing Committee on International Security and Arms Control, where she served eight years. After as many years on the NASA Advisory Council, she served as a commissioner on the International Space Station Management and Cost Evaluation Task Force. She is currently a member of MIT Energy Initiative's Advisory Board and co-chairman of NEAC, the Secretary of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Board.

In addition, Ms. Eisenhower has done extensive work in executive training on strategic leadership. She has spoken on this subject in many corporate venues, as well as at such distinguished institutions as the United States Military Academy at West Point; the Foreign Policy Association in New York; the Army War College, Carlisle; Sandia National Laboratory, MIT and Australia’s Science and Technology Organization, which is part of the Australian Ministry of Defence. Eisenhower holds a year-long seminar on strategy for competitively selected students at the Eisenhower Institute of Gettysburg College.

Eisenhower has authored hundreds of op-eds for newspapers such as the Washington Post and the LA Times, appeared frequently on national television and radio, and her articles have appeared in such journals as the National Academy of Sciences’ Issues in Science and Technology and the Naval Institutes’ Proceedings. She has written four trade press books, two of which were on regional best seller lists, and she co-authored or co-edited four other books on international security issues.

Building 32 Map

One of a Series: Biology Colloquium

Structural Basis for microRNA Targeting

September 30, 2014, 4-5 PM

Ian J. MacRae, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Department of Integrative Structural and Computational Biology
California Campus

Hosted by Professor Wendy Gilbertr

Building E51

One of a Series: MIT Energy Initiative

How to Talk about Energy and Climate

September 30, 2014, 4:30 PM

George P. Shultz
Former U.S. Secretary of State
Distinguished Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

George P. Shultz will speak about the challenge of climate change and the opportunities in the business, policy, and energy sectors to address it. He will discuss his recent experiences with energy policy and draw on that experience to reflect on current issues and opportunities. In 2010 he was part of the successful campaign to defeat Proposition 23, a California ballot initiative to suspend the state's ambitious law to curb greenhouse gases. He also recently proposed a revenue-neutral federal tax on carbon to slash U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and oil consumption. A limited number of complimentary copies of Shultz's recent book, Game Changers: Energy on the Move, will be available for attendees.

About the speaker
A native of New York, Shultz graduated from Princeton University in 1942. After serving in the Marine Corps (1942-45), he earned a PhD at MIT. Shultz taught at MIT and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, where he became dean in 1962. He was appointed Secretary of Labor in 1969, Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1970, and Secretary of the Treasury in 1972. From 1974 to 1982, he was President of Bechtel Group, Inc. Shultz served in the Reagan administration as Chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board (1981-82) and Secretary of State (1982-89). Since 1989, he has been a Distinguished Fellow at the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is Honorary Chairman of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Advisory Council Chair of the Precourt Institute for Energy Efficiency at Stanford, Chair of the MIT Energy Initiative External Advisory Board, and Chair of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy at the Hoover Institution. His most recent books are Issues on My Mind: Strategies for the Future (2013), and Game Changers: Energy on the Move (2014).

Building 32 Map

Better Late (40 years late!) Than Never: Monday Morning Quarterbacking the Coordinated- Attack Problem

September 30, 2014, 4:15 PM

Eli Gafni

The Coordinated-Attack problem was posed and proved impossible in 1975. It held the promise of creating a new kind of reasoning about computing: the field of distributed algorithms. It did not pan out that way. Only old-timers still remember this problem. There was not much to learn from it, since unlike the impossibility result of Fischer, Lynch and Patterson (FLP) for asynchronous agreement with a single fault that followed in 1983, straightforward variants of the underlying problem turned out to be trivial and uninteresting. In contrast, with FLP, the model of just a single fault still allowed for lesser coordination mechanisms than agreement that were still non-trivial. Indeed, the discovery a decade later of the connection between algebraic topology and distributed algorithms can be traced back to the FLP result. Thus FLP, rather than the Coordinated Attack, delivered on the original promise.

In this talk, I will show a simple tweak to the Coordinated-Attack problem that allows for some coordination. This possible coordination leads directly and simply to the FLP impossibility result, and the subsequent connection between distributed computing and algebraic topology.

The talk is aimed at a general audience and borrows from prior work with Yehuda Afek, and Elizabeth Borowsky, Nancy Lynch, and Sergio Rajsbaum.

This seminar is being jointly hosted by TOC and LIDS with LIDS

Charlestown Navy Yard
149 13th St
Seminar room 2204

One of a Series: Brainmap Seminar

The neural mechanisms of object-based attention

October 1, 2014, 12 PM

Daniel Baldauf, PhD.
Research Scientist,
McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT

How we attend to objects and their features that cannot be separated by location is not understood.We presented two temporally and spatially overlapping streams of objects, faces versus houses, and used magnetoencephalography and functional magnetic resonance imaging to separate neuronal responses to attended and unattended objects. Attention to faces versus houses enhanced the sensory responses in the fusiform face area (FFA) and parahippocampal place area (PPA), respectively. The increases in sensory responses were accompanied by induced gamma synchrony between the inferior frontal junction, IFJ, and either FFA or PPA, depending on which object was attended. The IFJ appeared to be the driver of the synchrony, as gamma phases were advanced by 20 ms in IFJ compared to FFA or PPA. Thus, the IFJ may direct the flow of visual processing during object-based attention, at least in part through coupled oscillations with specialized areas such as FFA and PPA.