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May 7: Leading Computer Science Theorist Joins Carnegie Mellon Faculty


Byron Spice                          

Leading Computer Science Theorist Joins Carnegie Mellon Faculty

guruswamiPITTSBURGH—Venkatesan Guruswami, a leading researcher in theoretical computer science whose work has provided new insights on digital communications, will join the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University's Computer Science Department as an associate professor July 1.
Guruswami, most recently an associate professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington, has been a visiting professor at Carnegie Mellon for the past academic year.
He is best known for his groundbreaking contributions to error-correcting codes, which are critical to the operation of computer hard drives, MP3 music players and digital televisions. His work, originally with Professor Madhu Sudan of MIT, showed it was possible to detect and correct much larger errors in digital signals than previously considered possible. That discovery led to new methods to make digital communications more robust by enabling the detection of weaker signals in noisy environments.
In recent work, Guruswami and his Ph.D. student Atri Rudra — now a faculty member at the University at Buffalo — constructed error-correcting codes with the best possible trade-off between information rate and the amount of errors corrected, answering a 50-year-old problem in coding theory.
Guruswami also does extensive work in computational complexity theory, exploring the dividing line between computationally tractable and intractable problems and the degree to which approximation can provide acceptable answers for a class of computationally difficult problems known as NP-hard problems.
"Venkat's work is beautiful and has significant practical implications in a range of areas, from wireless communications to language processing," said Peter Lee, head of the School of Computer Science's Computer Science Department. "His expertise in complexity theory and algorithms perfectly complements our already strong theory group and promises to take it to new heights."
Guruswami's honors include a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship and a National Science Foundation Early Career Development Award.
He earned a bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and his master's and doctorate degrees in computer science at MIT. He joined the University of Washington faculty in 2002 after spending the 2001-02 academic year as a Miller Research Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. During the 2007-08 academic year, he was on leave at the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.


Pictured above is Venkatesan Guruswami, a leading researcher in theoretical computer science.