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Computer Science Professor receives NSF CAREER Award

Sherstov.jpgAlexander Sherstov, a UCLA assistant professor of computer science, has received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation.

The NSF CAREER award is the organization’s most prestigious award in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

The award will fund Sherstov’s research on communication complexity.  Consider a function whose inputs are distributed among several parties, making it impossible for any one party to compute it in isolation. Communication complexity theory studies how much communication is needed to evaluate the function. A simple approach is for the parties to communicate their inputs to each other. While this costly solution is optimal in some cases, one can often accomplish the task with surprisingly little communication. To cite a famous example, one can determine, with 99% accuracy, whether two geographically separated databases are identical by communicating only eight bits, regardless of how large the databases actually are. Initiated three decades ago, communication complexity has evolved into a central area of theoretical computer science, with applications to computational complexity, computational learning, quantum computing, and more. Sherstov’s research aims to resolve major open problems in these areas through the study of communication.

Sherstov joined UCLA Engineering this academic year. Previously, he was a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research.

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