ACM ByteCast
Charu Thomas - Episode 27

Charu Thomas - Episode 27

July 13, 2022

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, our special guest host Scott Hanselman (of The Hanselminutes Podcast) welcomes Charu Thomas, Founder and CEO of Ox. Charu is an entrepreneur, researcher, and hacker. Her honors and recognitions include the ACM International Symposium on Wearable Computers (ISWC) 2018 Best Paper award, Forbes 30 Under 30, TechCrunch’s SF Disrupt Top Pick in Retail/E-commerce, winner of the Atlanta Startup Battle 3.0, and Collegiate Inventors Competition Finalist.

Charu shares how she got interested in wearable computing while pursuing a degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Georgia Tech. She explains how her research with Thad Starner, the inventor of Google Glass, led her to develop an augmented reality platform for order picking, and a vision to build the tools retailers need to transform their brick-and-mortar stores into micro-distribution centers. Charu highlights some people who have been instrumental in her journey from student to CEO, and some of the tools and tricks she’s learned along the way.

Links:
Charu Thomas' award-winning paper in ACM Digital Library.
Charu's blog on order picking.

Shyam Gollakota - Episode 26

Shyam Gollakota - Episode 26

June 22, 2022

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts 2020 ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award recipient Shyam Gollakota. He is a Torode Professor and leads the Networks and Mobile Systems Lab at the University of Washington's Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. Shyam is the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including a SIGMOBILE Rockstar award, 2021 Moore Inventor Fellowship, MIT Technology Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35, Popular Science ‘brilliant 10,’ and the Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list (twice). His group’s research has earned Best Paper awards at many top conferences, appeared in interdisciplinary journals like Nature, Nature Communications, Science Translational Medicine, and Science Robotics, and was named as an MIT Technology Review Breakthrough Technology of 2016 as well as Popular Science top innovations in 2015. Shyam's research covers a variety of topics, including mobile machine learning, networking, human-computer interaction, battery-free computing, and mobile health. He works across multiple disciplines including computer science, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, biology, and medicine. His work has been licensed by ResMed Inc, led to three startups (Jeeva Wireless, Sound Life Sciences, and Wavely Diagnostics), and is in use by millions of users.

Shyam, who didn’t know how to type on a keyboard until the age of 16, relates how he got into CS and discovered that more than just programming, it's also a toolkit people can use to build systems like an artist and solve some of the world’s most pressing problems. He describes his work around the ambient backscatter, which uses existing radio frequency signals to power devices, and wind dispersal powered devices (and how the common dandelion provided inspiration for this research). Shyam and Rashmi also talk about his work on devices used for sleep apnea and tracking and the broader promise of ubiquitous computing in healthcare, such as democratizing medical attention to areas that don’t have the same resources as the Western world. Finally, Shyam gives some insights into the entrepreneurial journey and looks toward the future of healthcare technology.

Margo Seltzer - Episode 25

Margo Seltzer - Episode 25

May 23, 2022

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts ACM Fellow Margo Seltzer, co-recipient of the 2020 ACM Software System Award (shared with Mike Olson of Cloudera and Keith Bostic of MongoDB). She is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Computer Systems and the Cheriton Family Chair in Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. Previously, Seltzer was the Herchel Smith Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Director at the Center for Research on Computation and Society. She is especially renowned for her work on log-structured file systems, databases, and wide-scale caching. Seltzer was previously CTO of Sleepycat Software, developers of the BerkeleyDB embedded database, later acquired by Oracle Corporation. Among her many honors, she is the recipient of the 2020 SIGMOD Systems Award and was recently named one of the “Top 20 Canadian Women in Cyber Security” by IT World Canada.

In the wide-ranging interview, Margo discusses her early years growing up in a high-achieving family and later studying applied mathematics at Harvard (before they had a CS major). She also recalls the amazing time in grad school studying under four legendary professors (including her advisor, Michael Stonebraker), and the origins of BerkeleyDB, which started as a graduate student open-source project and later became Sleepycat Software. Margo emphasizes the importance of taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone (and comfort research area) and inter-disciplinary collaboration, something she encourages in mentoring her students and junior colleagues. She also stresses the responsibility that comes with success and the value of mentoring students and providing guidance for impactful roles in service as well as research.

Wendy Chapman - Episode 24

Wendy Chapman - Episode 24

April 21, 2022

In this episode, the first of a special collaboration between ACM ByteCast and the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA)’s For Your Informatics podcast, hosts Karmen Williams and Sabrina Hsueh welcome Wendy Chapman, Associate Dean of Digital Health and Informatics at the University of Melbourne and Director of the Centre for Digital Transformation of Health. Her research focuses on developing computer algorithms to understand information typed into electronic medical records and natural language processing of clinical texts. She is an elected fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics and the US National Academy of Medicine.

Wendy discusses her journey from an undergraduate background in linguistics and Chinese literature to completing a PhD in Medical Informatics at the University of Utah and learning to program from scratch. She also describes moving to Australia when saw an opportunity to grow the field of digital health in Melbourne. She identifies the most pressing issues she is faced with in her new role and provides valuable advice based on her most impactful career moves. Wendy also shares with Karmen and Sabrina the development of the Digital Health Validitron at the University of Melbourne, which will guide innovators through questions in order to obtain funding and reimbursement. Finally, she identifies the areas in which ACM and AMIA can partner together in order to create a real impact in the field.

David Heinemeier Hansson - Episode 23

David Heinemeier Hansson - Episode 23

January 11, 2022

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts David Heinemeier Hansson, cofounder and CTO of Basecamp. In addition to his work on this popular project management application, he is also the creator of the open-source web framework Ruby on Rails, used by some of the best-known technology companies, such as Twitter, Shopify, GitHub, Airbnb, and Square, and more than a million other web applications. He is also a prolific author of multiple bestselling books on building and running a successful business, as well as a Le Mans class-winning racecar driver.

David recounts discovering Ruby in the early 2000s and using it to create Basecamp, work which spawned Ruby on Rails. He dives into the process of creating Basecamp, whose aim was to solve the problem of communication with clients, as well as building a self-sustaining community with Ruby on Rails. He also explains his personal approach to open-source software, one of his passions. David also looks back on lessons he learned in business school—including the marketing aspect of technology—and how he applied these lessons to building his own business. He also reveals his experience with remote work and what he’s most excited about for the future.

Amanda Randles - Episode 22

Amanda Randles - Episode 22

November 30, 2021

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts 2017 ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award recipient Amanda Randles, the Alfred Winborne and Victoria Stover Mordecai Assistant Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Duke University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. She is also Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering and a member of the Duke Cancer Institute. She has received the National Science Foundation Career Award and was selected as one of the 10 researchers to work on the Aurora Exascale Supercomputer. Her visionary work in simulating blood flow through the human body in a system called HARVEY, led her to be featured in the MIT Tech Review Innovators Under 35 list.

Amanda talks about growing up in Michigan and being inspired early on by her high school computer science teacher. She talks about her passion, which lies in using the largest supercomputers in the world to answer questions otherwise left unanswered, and her Duke research group’s focus on building large scale personalized blood flow simulations. She also discusses her 3-year involvement with IBM’s Blue Gene Team, where she learned how to debug programs and identify and work through problems collaboratively, and her time at Harvard University, where she learned about fluid dynamics and started writing HARVEY from scratch. She also describes the fascinating contributions her team made to address ventilator shortages during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jelani Nelson - Episode 21

Jelani Nelson - Episode 21

October 26, 2021

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, our special guest host Scott Hanselman (of The Hanselminutes Podcast) welcomes Jelani Nelson, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of the Theory Group at the University of California, Berkeley and a Research Scientist at Google. His areas of interest include the theory of computation, as well as the design and analysis of algorithms, especially for massive datasets. Jelani is a member of ACM's Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory (SIGACT)’s Committee for the Advancement of Theoretical Computer Science (CATCS). Among his honors, he won the 2014 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He is the creator of AddisCoder, a computer science summer program for Ethiopian high school students in Addis Ababa.

Jelani and Scott discuss his journey from learning HTML when he was 12 to becoming a theoretical computer scientist. They talk about the spectrum between software engineering and theory and how even theoretical CS research can have an impact on industry practice; teaching his introduction to algorithms course of more than 700 students; running a highly successful algorithmic boot camp for students in Ethiopia to learn coding; and the times he feels most accomplished in his work.

Links:
AddisCoder
People of ACM interview with Jelani Nelson
CATCS
SIGACT

Luiz André Barroso - Episode 20

Luiz André Barroso - Episode 20

September 27, 2021

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts 2020 ACM-IEEE CS Eckert-Mauchly Award recipient Luiz André Barroso of Google, where he drove transformation of hyperscale computing infrastructure and led engineering for key products like Google Maps. Luiz is a Google Fellow and Head of the Office of Cross-Google Engineering (XGE), responsible for company-wide technical coordination. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Engineering in Google Maps and led the Core team, the group primarily responsible for the technical foundation behind Google's flagship products. Prior to Google, Luiz was a member of the research staff at Digital Equipment Corporation and Compaq, where his group did some of the pioneering work on multi-core architectures. He co-authored The Datacenter as a Computer, the first textbook to describe the architecture of warehouse-scale computing systems. Luiz is a Fellow of ACM and AAAS.

In the interview, Luiz looks back on growing up in Brazil, and how family played a part in his early affinity for electrical engineering which progressed to computer engineering. He recalls his master’s advisor, who stimulated his fascination in Local Area Networks and queuing theory, and how this got him interested in computer science. Luiz also talks about his first job in computing at IBM Research in Rio de Janeiro, and his PhD days at USC in Los Angeles, which got him involved in computer architecture and gave him an early taste of both research and practice in memory systems. He shares of his unique experiences in moving from hardware to software engineering at Google and from areas of high professional expertise to “areas of ignorance,” and how an engineering education prepared him to scale new heights.

Ayanna Howard - Episode 19

Ayanna Howard - Episode 19

August 24, 2021

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts 2021-2022 ACM Athena Lecturer Ayanna Howard, Dean of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University and founder and President of the Board of Directors of Zyrobotics. Previously she was chair of the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Interactive Computing in the College of Computing, where she founded and led the Human-Automation Systems Lab (HumAnS). Before that, she worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She is a Fellow of AAAI and IEEE. Among her many honors, Howard received the Computer Research Association’s A. Nico Habermann Award and the Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award. Forbes named her to its America's Top 50 Women in Tech list.

In the interview Ayanna looks back on her early love of robotics, inspired by science fiction, teaching herself how to program, and working a high school job at the California Institute of Technology. She shares some of her favorite research projects at JPL, where she designed expert systems, and describes the transition from government/industrial work to academia. She also talks about AI challenges relating to training models and large-scale deployment of lab-tested algorithms—offering warnings for technologists—as well as some potential solutions from her research. Rashmi and Ayanna also touch on her company, Zyrobotics, which develops mobile therapy and educational products for children with special needs, and her book, Sex, Race, and Robots: How to Be Human in the Age of AI.

Mounia Lalmas - Episode 18

Mounia Lalmas - Episode 18

July 27, 2021

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, Rashmi Mohan hosts Mounia Lalmas, Director of Research and Head of Tech Research in Personalization at Spotify, leading a team of researchers in content personalization and discovery. Prior to that, she was Director of Research at Yahoo London. She also holds an Honorary Professorship at University College London. Mounia’s work focuses on studying user engagement in areas such as native advertising, digital media, social media, and search, and now audio (music and talk). She is a frequent conference speaker, author, and organizer whose research has appeared at many ACM (and other) conferences, including CIKM, RecSys, SIGIR, SIGKDD, UMAP, WSDM, WWW, and more.

Mounia relates her beginnings in computing as a young student growing up in Algeria, her love for mathematical abstraction, and passion for evaluation and user engagement. She also traces her interest in the field of information retrieval and highlights some of the challenges in building robust recommender systems for music lovers. Mounia and Rashmi also discuss the differences between academic and industrial research, the important role conferences and networking play in computing research, and what excites her most in the fields of personalization research and information retrieval.

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