Brown CS News

Michael Littman Returns to Brown with Professor Appointment; Tim Kraska and Paul Valiant to Join the Department as Assistant Professors


The Department is thrilled to announce the addition of three new faculty members for the 2012-2013 academic year. PhD alum Michael Littman ’96 and Paul Valiant will begin teaching in September and Tim Kraska will join the department in January.

Michael previously spent many years as the director of the Rutgers Laboratory for Real-Life Reinforcement Learning and served as the department chair from 2009 until June 2012. His expertise includes artificial intelligence and machine learning. Tim will come to Brown after serving as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California at Berkeley, working in the AMP Lab on Big Data management and hybrid human/machine database systems. Paul is also a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California at Berkeley in the Theory of Computation group. He received his PhD from MIT and his interests include cryptographic and algorithmic game theory and coding theory.

Our three new faculty members will help serving our growing population of graduate and undergraduate students. “We are thrilled to have these three exceptionally bright and talented scholars join our department,” said Chair Roberto Tamassia. “We are all looking forward to welcoming them to Brown in the coming academic year.”

Michael Littman

After earning his PhD from Brown University in 1996, Michael worked as an assistant professor at Duke University, a member of technical staff in AT&T's AI Principles Research Department, and was most recently associate professor and chair in the computer science department at Rutgers. He is on the executive council of the American Association for AI, the advisory board of the Journal of AI Research, and serves as an action editor of the Journal of Machine Learning Research.

His research in artificial intelligence focuses on designing software systems that improve their behavior with experience. His educational focus is on making academic computer science accessible to the general public.

“It's a dream come true to be coming back to Brown,” said Michael. “When I was here as a student, I was very focused on my narrow research area. This time, I'm very excited to get to know the undergraduates and to work with faculty both within and outside Computer Science. It's a very exciting time to be a Computer Scientist and I would love to see the whole Brown community benefiting from the fantastic opportunities enabled by our ideas.”

Tim Kraska

Tim received his PhD from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) in Switzerland, master’s degrees from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster in Germany and University of Sydney in Australia and a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems also from Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. He received a Swiss National Science Foundation Prospective Researcher Fellowship (2010), a DAAD Scholarship (2006), a University of Sydney Master of Information Technology Scholarship for outstanding achievement (2005), the University of Sydney Siemens Prize (2005), and a VLDB best demo award (2011). Tim’s current focus is on Big Data management and hybrid human / machine data base systems.

According to Tim, “Brown’s strong interdisciplinary and friendly environment with its excellent faculty and students make it a truly outstanding university. I am very excited to be joining the CS department and to be part of making it one of the leading places for big data research.”

Paul Valiant

Paul received his PhD from MIT and master’s degrees from both MIT and Stanford and a Bachelors degree from Stanford. He was previously a postdoctoral researcher at MIT. Paul received a NSF Mathematical Sciences Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, the Best Student Paper Award at the Theory of Cryptography Conference in 2008 and a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. His interests include statistics, learning and property testing; cryptography; auctions and game theory; protein folding; evolution; fluid dynamics and computational approaches to the other sciences.

“I am very excited to be joining the collaborative and forward-looking community of Brown's Computer Science Department,” said Paul. “Computation has been constantly challenging us to change how we think about the world, and I am particularly intrigued by the new perspectives it offers on deep problems in the other sciences. At Brown I look forward to engaging with students and faculty from many departments and backgrounds to learn how to tackle these challenges.”

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