Computer scientist Ryan Adams wins DARPA Young Faculty Award

first_imgRyan Adams, assistant professor of computer science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has won a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award.Adams will receive $300,000 to support his project titled “Developing New Methods of Multi-Core Statistic Inference Towards Rapid Data Fusion and Information Extraction.”The grant will be focused on pursuing research towards large-scale inference using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods. Many of the most powerful modern techniques for data analysis and machine learning rely on probabilistic models, and the manipulation of these models often presents a significant computational challenge.Adams’ group is looking for new ways to make these kinds of algorithms work on modern computational architecture, which favors multiple weakly coupled processors rather than a single fast CPU.“This is an exciting research direction, as significant progress in these techniques impacts not only computer science, but also many other fields such as physics, statistics, and biology,” says Adams. “We hope to couple innovative new mathematical foundations with engineering efforts to build practical and widely useful systems.”Adams joined Harvard in July 2011; he runs the Harvard Intelligent Probabilistic Systems group, which is dedicated to building intelligent algorithms.Previously, he was a CIFAR Junior Research Fellow at the University of Toronto. He earned his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge and B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT.His research focuses on machine learning and computational statistics, but he is broadly interested in questions related to artificial intelligence, computational neuroscience, machine vision, and Bayesian nonparametrics. Read Full Storylast_img read more

Alumnus reflects on experience as gay, Catholic

first_imgChristopher Damian, a graduate of the University of Notre Dame class of 2013, discussed the intersection of homosexuality, Catholicism and theology in his presentation “Gay and Catholic,” hosted Thursday evening by the Gender Relations Center and the Institute for Church Life.Damian spoke about his journey toward reconciling his sexual identity with the teachings of the Catholic Church. Damian recounted his struggle to understand his identity throughout his undergraduate years.“How could I see my studies through a unified lens, if I couldn’t see myself as a unified person?” he said.Damian said one of the most difficult aspects he encountered while accepting his sexuality was how to understand the Church’s teachings regarding homosexuality and intimacy. Damian said he frequently questioned whether or not he would be able to fully engage in relationships with others, a question which poses a significant problem for LGBTQ-identifying Catholics.“I was worried that I couldn’t have friendship with anyone,” Damian said. “I wondered if my life as a Catholic was doomed to failure.”Damian said the language and rhetoric of the Catechism regarding homosexuality tends to be misrepresented and misunderstood by Catholics, specifically passages that refer to homosexuality as an intrinsic disorder. Damian said the focus on condemning the identity of LGBTQ individuals often leads to unnecessary rejection.“We should be careful about the things we say about sexual-minority students,” he said. “If Christians make claims about these people that seem blatantly untrue, this will cause others to question these issues and Christianity as a whole.”Damian said there is a need to define adequately the nature of the celibate vocation established for gay Catholics as well as address the definitions of friendship and intimacy for LGBTQ Catholics. He said celibacy allows others to engage in a life of self-giving love and reflect on the true nature of desire for intimacy.“The Church’s limitations are not meant to close us off, but rather, to open us up,” Damian said. “The Church places limitations so that we may be drawn deeper into reflection on where our intimacies and desires can lead us.”Damian said the definition of homosexuality can be highly misunderstood within the broader cultural context. Although sexuality and sexual orientation are frequently understood to be rigid and focused purely on sexual intimacy, “sexual attraction is very fluid and contextual,” he said.“I’m going to argue that the way in which the Catechism treats homosexuality is actually quite different for how it’s understood in the broader culture,” Damian said. “The more I’ve thought about it, it seems to me that while the desire for sexual intimacy with a person of the same sex is a significant part of the gay experience, it is only one aspect of it.”Damian said understanding homosexuality and identity requires understanding the transformative nature of the Church.“Catholicism never leaves things as they are,” he said. “It deepens, purifies and transforms all things it comes into contact with. So history becomes more than just history. For the Church, it can be deepened into salvation history.”Tags: Christopher Damian, Gay and Catholic, Gender Relations Center, Institute for Church Life, LGBTQlast_img read more