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Past Events › LIDS Seminar Series

Distinguished speakers provide an overview and discuss recent progress in research areas spanning communications, computation, control, learning, networks, probability and statistics, optimization, and signal processing. Intended for a broad audience.

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May 2018

LIDS Seminar Series – Vivek Borkar

May 15, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Vivek Borkar (Indian Institute of Technology Bombay)


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A Rationally Designed Biomolecular Integral Feedback Control System for Robust Gene Regulation

May 8, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Mustafa Khammash ( ETH Zurich )


Abstract Humans have been influencing the DNA of plants and animals for thousands of years through selective breeding. Yet it is only over the last 3 decades or so that we have gained the ability to manipulate the DNA itself and directly alter its sequences through the modern tools of genetic engineering. This has revolutionized biotechnology and ushered in the era of synthetic biology. Among the possible applications enabled by synthetic biology is the design and engineering of feedback control…

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April 2018

LIDS Seminar Series: Jose M. F. Moura

April 24, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Jose M F Moura (Carnegie Mellon University)


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Community-based and Peer-to-peer Electricity Markets

April 18, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Pierre Pinson ( Technical University of Denmark )

MIT Building E18, Room 304

Abstract The deployment of distributed renewable generation capacities, new ICT capabilities, as well as a more proactive role of consumers, are all motivating rethinking electricity markets in a more distributed and consumer-centric fashion. After motivating the design of various forms of consumer-centric electricity markets, we will focus on two alternative constructs (which could actually be unified) consisting in community-based and peer-to-peer electricity markets. The mathematical framework for these markets will be described, with focus on negotiation and clearing algorithms in…

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Finding Online Extremists in Social Networks

April 10, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Tauhid Zaman (MIT)


Abstract Online extremists in social networks pose a new form of threat to the general public. These extremists range from cyber bullies who harass innocent users to terrorist organizations such as ISIS that use social networks to spread propaganda. Currently, social networks suspend the accounts of such extremists in response to user complaints, but these extremist users simply create new accounts and continue their activities. In this talk, we present a new set of operational capabilities to help authorities mitigate…

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March 2018

LIDS Seminar Series – Lizhong Zheng

March 20, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Lizhong Zheng (MIT)


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The Power of Multiple Samples in Generative Adversarial Networks

March 13, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Sewoong Oh ( University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign )


Abstract We bring the tools from Blackwell’s seminal result on comparing two stochastic experiments from 1953, to shine a new light on a modern application of great interest: Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN). Binary hypothesis testing is at the center of training GANs, where a trained neural network (called a critic) determines whether a given sample is from the real data or the generated (fake) data. By jointly training the generator and the critic, the hope is that eventually, the trained…

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February 2018

Safe Learning in Robotics

February 27, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Claire Tomlin ( University of California, Berkeley )


Abstract A great deal of research in recent years has focused on robot learning. In many applications, guarantees that specifications are satisfied throughout the learning process are paramount. For the safety specification, we present a controller synthesis technique based on the computation of reachable sets using optimal control. We show recent results in system decomposition to speed up this computation, and how offline computation may be used in online applications. We then present a method combining reachability with machine learning,…

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Submodular Optimization: From Discrete to Continuous and Back

February 20, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Amin Karbasi (Yale University)


Abstract Many procedures in statistics and artificial intelligence require solving non-convex problems. Historically, the focus has been to convexify the non-convex objectives. In recent years, however, there has been significant progress to optimize non-convex functions directly. This direct approach has led to provably good guarantees for specific problem instances such as latent variable models, non-negative matrix factorization, robust PCA, matrix completion, etc. Unfortunately, there is no free lunch and it is well known that in general finding the global optimum…

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Supervisory Control of Discrete Event Systems: A Retrospective and Two Recent Results on Security and Privacy

February 13, 2018 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Stephane Lafortune (University of Michigan)


Abstract Lafortune will begin with a brief retrospective of the theory of supervisory control of discrete event systems, initiated in the seminal work of Ramadge & Wonham over 30 years ago, and compare it with recent work in formal methods in control. He will then present results from his group on two problems: (i) sensor deception attacks in the supervisory control layer of a cyber-physical system; and (ii) obfuscation of system secrets by insertion of fictitious events in the output…

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