Annual symposium for Undergraduate Research Summer Institute to include address by Cal-Berkeley computer scientist Christos Papadimitriou, on September 25, 2013

Each summer over 100 combined Vassar students and professors participate in the Undergraduate Research Summer Institute (URSI), an intensive 10-week campus program in which students conduct original scientific research under faculty direction. Together through URSI they create and nurture a tightly knit community of scientific scholars. Each fall at the annual URSI symposium students make presentations about their summer research projects and an invited distinguished scientist provides a keynote address.

The 2013 URSI symposium will be held on Wednesday, September 25, from 3:00-6:45pm in the Villard Room of Main Building, beginning with oral presentations by five of this summer’s student researchers. At 4:15 computer scientist Christos H. Papadimitriou will present his keynote “Computational Insights and the Theory of Evolution”, immediately followed by a gallery of student poster presentations on the all of the 2013 URSI projects (held in areas adjacent to the Villard Room). All activities are free and open to the public.

URSI was founded in 1986 and is among the nation's oldest undergraduate scientific research programs. Complete information on the September 25 symposium and the overall URSI program can be found online at

In his address Papadimitriou will discuss how recent computational techniques have provided unique insights into the theory of evolution. For example, developments such as genetic algorithms, Boolean functions, and unsupervised learning have advanced the understanding certain aspects of evolution and population genetics.

Papadimitriou’s special interest is the theory of algorithms and complexity, and its applications to databases, optimization, Artificial Intelligence, the Internet, game theory, and evolution. His scholarly books include Elements of the Theory of Computation (1982), Combinatorial Optimization: Algorithms and Complexity (1982), The Theory of Database Concurrency Control (1988), Computational Complexity (1994), and Algorithms (2006).

Papadimitriou is the C. Lester Hogan Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Cal-Berkeley, where he has taught since 1996. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Engineering, his honors also include the Goedel Prize, the Knuth Prize, and several honorary doctorates.  In addition to his scholarly articles and books, he has published the novels Turing (2003) and Independence (2012), as well as the graphic novel Logicomix (2010). Papadimitriou earlier taught at Harvard, MIT, Athens Polytechnic, Stanford, and the University of California-San Diego.  He graduated from Athens Polytechnic and received his PhD. from Princeton.

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Posted Thursday, September 19, 2013