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Events for March 15, 2021

  • CS Colloquium: Amy Zhang (McGill University) - Exploiting latent structure and bisimulation metrics for better generalization in reinforcement learning

    Mon, Mar 15, 2021 @ 09:00 AM - 10:00 AM

    Computer Science

    Conferences, Lectures, & Seminars


    Speaker: Amy Zhang, McGill University

    Talk Title: Exploiting latent structure and bisimulation metrics for better generalization in reinforcement learning

    Series: CS Colloquium

    Abstract: The advent of deep learning has shepherded unprecedented progress in various fields of machine learning. Despite recent advances in deep reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms, however, there is no method today that exhibits anywhere near the generalization that we have seen in computer vision and NLP. Indeed, one might ask whether deep RL algorithms are even capable of the kind of generalization that is needed for open-world environments. This challenge is fundamental and will not be solved with incremental algorithmic advances.

    In this talk, we propose to incorporate different assumptions that better reflect the real world and allow the design of novel algorithms with theoretical guarantees to address this fundamental problem. We first present how state abstractions can accelerate reinforcement learning from rich observations, such as images, without relying either on domain knowledge or pixel-reconstruction. Our goal is to learn state abstractions that both provide for effective downstream control and invariance to task-irrelevant details. We use bisimulation metrics to quantify behavioral similarity between states, and learn robust latent representations which encode only the task-relevant information from observations. We provide theoretical guarantees for the learned approximate abstraction and extend this notion to families of tasks with varying dynamics.

    This lecture satisfies requirements for CSCI 591: Research Colloquium


    Biography: I am a final year PhD candidate at McGill University and the Mila Institute, co-supervised by Profs. Joelle Pineau and Doina Precup. I am also a researcher at Facebook AI Research. My work focuses on bridging theory and practice through learning approximate state abstractions and learning representations for generalization in reinforcement learning. I previously obtained an M.Eng. in EECS and dual B.Sci. degrees in Mathematics and EECS from MIT.

    Host: Sven Koenig

    Audiences: By invitation only.

    Contact: Assistant to CS chair

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  • CS Colloquium: Mai ElSherief (Georgia Institute of Technology) - Computational Methods for Identifying Deviant Content in Online Media Ecosystems

    Mon, Mar 15, 2021 @ 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

    Computer Science

    Conferences, Lectures, & Seminars


    Speaker: Mai ElSherief, Georgia Institute of Technology

    Talk Title: Computational Methods for Identifying Deviant Content in Online Media Ecosystems

    Series: CS Colloquium

    Abstract: In recent years, the pervasive adoption of social media has created an ecosystem populated by a pandemonium of opinion, true and false information, and an unprecedented quantity of data on many topics. While online information ecosystems provide freedom of expression and give voice to individuals, they have also suffered a wave of disorder due to the prevalence of malevolent online misuse, manifested as online harassment, cyberbullying, and hate speech; and online misinformation, such as fake news and medical misinformation movements. In this talk, I will present language-centric approaches for improving online hate speech detection and characterization. I will then showcase a human-machine mixed-initiative that aims at investigating and detecting online misinformation surrounding Opioid Use Disorders in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    This lecture satisfies requirements for CSCI 591: Research Colloquium

    Biography: Mai ElSherief is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. Her research interests lie at the intersection of Social Computing, Natural Language Processing, and Online Social Networks, specifically causes of social good. In her research, she adopts Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning methods to examine human behavior pertaining to online abuse, biases, public health intelligence, and community wellbeing. Prior to her Postdoctoral Fellowship, she received Ph.D. from the Computer Science department at UC, Santa Barbara within the Mobility Management and Networking (MOMENT) Lab along with a Certificate in College and University Teaching (CCUT) to demonstrate superior competence and experience in preparation for teaching at the university or college level.

    Her research on computationally understanding the psychological impacts of active shooting drills on K-12 school communities received press coverage by NBC, the Hill, and 11Alive. She has been a summer research intern at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University understanding anti-immigration sentiment and the discursive practices of online hate groups. She has been selected as a 2020 UC Berkley EECS Rising Stars Participant. She was also awarded the UCSB 2019 CS Outstanding Graduate Student and the 2017 Fiona and Michael Goodchild Graduate mentoring award for her distinguished research mentoring of undergraduate students.


    Host: Bistra Dilkina

    Audiences: By invitation only.

    Contact: Assistant to CS chair

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  • Executive Coffee with Verizon

    Mon, Mar 15, 2021 @ 12:00 PM - 01:00 PM

    Computer Science

    Student Activity


    This event is hosted by the USC Entertainment Technology Center and CS students are encouraged to attend.

    The -Executive Coffee with- program at the USC Entertainment Technology Center connects USC students interested in media and entertainment issues with media & entertainment industry executives.

    It is a win-win. The students have a structured low-pressure discussion with a senior industry executive. The executive explores the perspective and ideas of students with an interest in a topic that they care about.

    Monday, March 15, 12:00pm-1:00pm

    Lead Executive: Serhad Doken, Executive, Innovation and Product Realization for the Verizon Consumer Group, Verizon
    Student/Executive Discussion Topic: Expectations for the Future of Entertainment and UI/UX

    What kind of UX/UI do you expect in the future for communicating with friends and colleagues (ex. messaging, business presentations and analytics), being entertained (ex. video, gaming, immersion, social media), and performing mundane tasks (ex. housework)? Assuming that they are fashionable, what kinds of wearables would you want, what would you like the UI/UX to be like, and what functions/applications do you want them to perform?

    Students should go to https://bit.ly/37MLDsF for more information and to fill out the sign-up application.

    Location: Online

    Audiences: Undergraduate and Graduate Students

    Contact: USC ETC

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