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Two CS PhD Students Selected to Attend Forum Featuring Giants of CS and Math Fields

7/22/2020 1:35:42 PM Laura Schmitt, Illinois CS

Illinois CS doctoral candidates Umang Mathur and Dimitrios Skarlatos have been selected to attend the 2020 Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany, one of the most unique conferences and networking events in the world.

The weeklong forum brings together 200 young researchers with some of the greatest minds in computer science and mathematics—winners of the ACM A.M. Turing Award, Abel Prize, Fields Medal, and Nevanlinna Prize.

Designed to inspire and motivate a new generation of researchers, the forum mixes formal lectures and scientific panel discussions with social events like dinners, receptions, and tours of the surrounding historic area.

Umang Mathur
Umang Mathur

Although the forum has been delayed until September 2021 due to the pandemic, Mathur looks forward to meeting some of his research heroes and networking with his fellow young researchers, especially since he’ll be launching his faculty career that fall as an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore.

“The laureates have demonstrated to the world the power of creative and critical thinking, organized thought process, and systematic research methodology,” said Mathur, who hopes to meet 2013 A.M. Turing award winner Leslie Lamport, among others. “I hope to imbibe these priceless merits from them into my research endeavors. [The Forum] also provides a great platform for establishing future collaborations with other young researchers.”

Mathur, a member of professor Mahesh Viswanathan’s group, creates automated techniques to detect software bugs and also design techniques to help developers certify their code for complete absence of bugs.

A member of professor Josep Torrellas’ research group, Skarlatos looks forward to meeting 2017 Turing award winners John Hennessy and David Patterson, who developed the RISC architecture used in nearly all computer chips today.

Dimitrios Skarlatos
Dimitrios Skarlatos

“Both Hennessy and Patterson have fundamentally shaped the computer architecture field,” said Skarlatos, whose doctoral research rethinks the abstractions and interactions between computer hardware and operating system software in order to achieve better performance and security guarantees. “Every student who takes an architecture course most likely uses their book, so it would be a great honor to meet them in person.”

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum is sponsored by the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies and the Klaus Tschira Foundation. Graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and young faculty can learn more about the Forum and the application process by visiting the organization’s website.

In addition to Mathur and Skarlatos, 10 other Illinois CS students have participated in the event since its inception in 2013.

Mathur encourages his fellow CS researchers to pursue the opportunity and apply more than once if unsuccessful on the first try.

“I had applied for the Forum in my first year of my PhD, but my application was not selected” he said. “So, I want to tell all junior PhD students to persevere because there is light at the end of the tunnel.”