Thursday, July 20, 2006

Lunch with a AAAI Fellow

I had the pleasure of participating the "Lunch with a AAAI Fellow" event yesterday. We were fortunate enough to meet not one but two AAAI Fellows, Dr. Marty Tenenbaum and Dr. Harry G. Barrow. We were taken to a nice seafood restaurant where we had the opportunity to discuss a wide range of topics with the fellows. Both Dr. Tenenbaum and Dr. Barrow were very insightful and a provided a lot of very useful advice about our own research and the research career in general.

I feel very priviledged to have been given this opportunity and I would like to thank Dr. Tenenbaum and Dr. Barrow again for their time and the effort they put into this event.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Favorite talk so far

Granted the conference pretty much just started, my favorite talk so far was Stephen Muggleton's talk on computational biology. I was especially interested in the idea of the robot scientist and using ILP for systems biology. He said that he hoped his talk would provide inspiration in the field, and I thought it did. I really bought in to what he was saying about how it's an exciting time for AI because we can apply our tools to this very interesting domain of biological/chemical research that has tons of data and tons of real world applicability. Anyone else seen a talk they really liked so far?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Day 1 Notes (Doctoral Consortium)

On the first day of AAAI I started at 7 AM from Boston University residence hall and the ride on the (T) was smooth. It took me a while to figure out the registration desk's location (which was in the World Trade Center lobby).

The Doctoral Consortium was in a mid-size room isolated to the end of a long corridor on the Mezzanine level. The room was not quite arranged the way Kiri and Terrane had asked for but the round tables arrangement worked out fine in the end. Kiri started the proceedings with the purpose of the DC and other administrative comments and we quickly went into student presentations. All the presenters recieved a lot of feedback not just from their mentors but also from the rest of the audience.

There were some general comments on the presentation and writing style that I noted down (Please feel free to improve/correct these in the comments) :

1. Try to be interactive and look at the audience and not at the slides during your talk.
2. Keep an eye on the session chair for important time limit signals
3. Be concise
4. Mark out important slides and be sure to get to them even if you have to skip some of the other slides for lack of time.
5. Try to give around a minute per slide and try to limit your number of slides to your time limit (this varies with your talking manner)
6. USE FIGURES, CHARTS AND TABLES.
7. Motivate your problem and give a brief but compelling example of why your work is needed to grab the audience's attention.
8. Try to avoid puttng complicated or long mathematical equations on the slides especially when you don't have time to define all the terms in the equation.
9. Make a clear distinction between related work and your contributions.
10. Spell out your contributions at the beginning to make sure that the audience's expectations are not set too high/low.

I'll cover dinner (which was very good btw), panels on day 2 and more comments in my next post.

The 1st day at the Doctoral Consortium

The first day of the DC turned out to be a great experiance .. there was a lot of energy which you could see in manner participants made their presentations and also the interest ppl took in asking good questions.. I had not expected ppl to be so involved, but the DC seniors were really into it .. esp the mentors. My mentor David was incredible in the feedback he gave to me in such a short period of time and the personal interest he took in the entire experiance. Other ppl also had simialr experiances, with mentors having spent many hours reading the stuff we had written and published. The ppl who got realy positive feedback about their phd topics can go back and feel confident about being able to sell their research to peers and the scientific community in teh future

I'll write about the DC dinner a bit later !

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Some of the pictures that I took around MIT


Building 10


Ashdown (graduate students dorm)


MIT auditorium


Charles River


Another Charles River


The famous dome


East Campus


Green Building


The path near Hayden Libraray


The view from marriott hotel


In front of 77 massachusetts avenue


Stata building



I hope you enjoy the pics!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hola from Boston

I arrived Boston on Thursday. Stayed 2 nights at the HI-Boston and today moved to the Seaport hotel. If you are already here & would like to hang out tonight - feel free to post a message! Some tips from my stay here:
1. Not all Subway station have the "new payment system". Actually most of them still use tokens so do not buy a card with much credit.
2. It is very easy to get to Seaport and to HI-Boston with the T. Both are less than 2 minutes from Subway stations.
3. Freedom trail is a must. It takes 3-4 hours if you stop for photos (& ice-cream). You can do it yourself. A map with info is available for $2 at the info center (Park station).
4. Nightlife - the area near the Fenway park (home of Red-Sox) is the spot, with lot's of bars and night clubs. Avalon is a nice club. Yesterday the cover was $15. Drinks are quite expensive ($10 for vodka-redbull).
5. HI-Boston is a very nice hostel ith nice people but the rooms are very small.
6. Seaport is great :)

C ya,
Saher

Boston University Housing

First and most importantly, if you are staying in student housing at Boston University, do not get off the green line at Boston Univeristy West! Yes, the residence hall is on the west end of campus. No, that's not the right stop. You want the third stop after Boston University West -- Babcock.

The next thing you need to know is that the residence hall is hiding from you. It's that big unmarked building right on the corner of Commonwealth and Babcock. And just to make your life more difficult, the entrance isn't actually on Commonwealth. It's on Babcock.

I truly hope you don't suffer through the agony of lugging your bags all around town searching for this place like I did.

(Okay, so it wasn't that bad. But the walk from U West, where I got off the green, to the residence hall -- it's not fun. Especially if you're carrying your bags with you. Thank goodness I packed light.)

And finally to the most important thing on all of our minds: food. Boston University has this awesome page that will tell you exactly what restaurants are open in the area right now. It includes reviews, menus, addresses, and regular business hours. This is brilliant. Check it out if you have a bad case of late-night munchies or are in desperate need of dinner:

Boston University Restaurants: Who's Open?

And leave a comment if you find a restaurant that's just out of this world, because I'm hungry!

An FYI on taxis from the airport

Just to let people know, when you take a cab from the Logan airport, they add $6.50 in fees to the fare. I found that out firsthand this morning...
We'll see everyone in Boston!

Monday, July 10, 2006

AAAI-06 for your calendar

If you have an ICAL compatible calendar, feel free to subscribe to the AAAI-06 Technical Sessions Calendar I put together. Please let me know if anything is out of sync with The Official AAAI-06 Schedule, and I will fix it right away.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Swapping Volunteer Tasks

Everyone should have received an email notification that the volutneer tasks have been assigned. If you have a time conflict or another reason that doesn't allow you to do your assigned task, you can use the AAAI-06 Student Forum to try and swap tasks with other volunteers. Once both parties have come to an aggreement, the volunteer schedule will be updated.