Joint Computer Science Department Distinguished Lecture and Algorithmic Economics Seminar

  • Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director
  • Microsoft Research New England
Distinguished Lecture Series

The Power of Locality for Network Algorithms

Given the massive size of many networks, conventional algorithms which scale as polynomials in the network size are woefully inadequate. In the first part of this talk, we consider how to use locality to deliver much more efficient algorithms (quasi-linear or even sub-linear in the network size) for quantities and questions like pagerank, coverage, diffusion, and determining the most influential nodes. In this second part of this talk, we consider another aspect of locality, namely the question of local data access. Many large networks are encoded locally, e.g., with adjacency lists. How does the nature of the data access impact the efficiency of algorithms? Surprisingly, we show that small differences in data access can lead to very large differences in efficiency and approximability of network algorithms. As an example, we consider a covering problem which arises naturally for recruiters on social networks, and show how small differences between the information on neighbors in LinkedIn and Facebook lead to large differences in their utility to recruiters.


Jennifer Tour Chayes is Distinguished Scientist and Managing Director of Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she co-founded in 2008, and Microsoft Research New York City, which she co-founded in 2012. Chayes was Research Area Manager for Mathematics, Theoretical Computer Science and Cryptography at Microsoft Research Redmond until 2008. Chayes joined Microsoft Research in 1997, when she co-founded the Theory Group. Her research areas include phase transitions in discrete mathematics and computer science, structural and dynamical properties of self-engineered networks, and algorithmic game theory. She is the co-author of over 110 scientific papers and the co-inventor of more than 25 patents.

She was for many years Professor of Mathematics at UCLA. She serves on numerous institute boards, advisory committees and editorial boards, including the Turing Award Selection Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Board of Trustees of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics, the Advisory Boards of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Computer Science, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farm Research Campus, and Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology. Chayes is a past Chair of the Mathematics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past Vice-President of the American Mathematical Society.

Chayes received her B.A. in biology and physics at Wesleyan University, where she graduated first in her class, and her Ph.D. in mathematical physics at Princeton. She did her postdoctoral work in the mathematics and physics departments at Harvard and Cornell. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Sloan Fellowship, and the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. Chayes has recently been the recipient of many leadership awards including the Leadership Award of Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology, the Leading Women Award of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, the Women to Watch Award of the Boston Business Journal, and the Women of Leadership Vision Award of the Anita Borg Institute. She has twice been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Chayes is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science the Fields Institute, the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Mathematical Society, and a National Associate of the National Academies.


Faculty Host: Ariel Procaccia

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