Glimpse of 8th Heidelberg Laureate Forum 2021

For any young researcher, this is a dream come true opportunity to be part of HLF. Following my selection in the recent 8th HLF 2021 event, I will share my experience here.

My first VLOG appearance. Thanks to HLF21:

Overall the program was conducted in 4 days covering various sessions and unique events per day. There is day 0 as well which happened before the actual beginning of the event.

Day 0

Before the commencement of the actual event, a session was conducted entitled “Communicating your research effectively” by Elena and Martin R. Lichtenthaler. A beautiful exercise was conducted where participants were divided into groups of two. The activity was to communicate your research problem in a limited time. This activity was divided into three stages having different times (2 min., 1 min., 30s) to convey your research idea in an obvious manner that your group member understands well. This exercise gave me the idea that if you have more ideas then you can express the problem in a relatable manner (easier to understand). However, with less time you stick to the jargon and it becomes difficult for the general public to understand. Following is the screenshot of the event:

HLF - Communicating-Your-Research-Effectively
Happy faces of the event.

Day 1

It begins with the daily news by Tom Crawford (emcee of the 8th HLF), outlining the events and sessions that will be done today.

At first the opening ceremony was ceremony was conducted with beautiful songs. Though it was virtual but the feeling was real. In the lAt first, the opening ceremony was conducted with beautiful songs. Though it was virtual, however, the feeling was real. In the later session, lectures were conducted from great laureates. Later, there was another fun activity known as “Speed Networking”, in which I met with other participants randomly to connect for a limited time of 3 minutes. In the later session, I interacted with great laureate Prof. Leslie G. Valiant. Following this, I attended fishbowl session and panel discussions. At last, all participants interacted with each other in the virtual HLF environment. Day 1 was just the beginning of the fun. Below are the couple of images I took of day 1. Finally we end with the recap session providing describing experience the day.

Day 2

Again the day activities are followed from the daily news session describing today’s events: Laureate discussion, dialogues, hot topic – the science of epidemic modelling and Yoga.

  • We initiated with a wonderful Yoga session. The session on Mindfulness with Sophie Bachmann was interesting and revealing. This is needed to be as part of our daily habit to remain healthy and live long to do research.
  • Next, we had a hot topic discussion on epidemic modelling: understanding of the models to the public by Prof. Sebastian Funk, Prof. Sheetal Silal, Prof. Julia Fitzner and Prof. Amrish Baidjoe.
  • In the fishbowl discussion, we discussed propagation analysis by Prof. Sebastian Funk. The forecasting of the cases using AI and performance evaluation.
  • We also had an amazing discussion session with Prof. Al Aho and Prof. Jeff Ullman who are recent recipients of the ACM Turing Award for fundamental algorithms and theory underlying the programing language implementation. It was amazing to be part of their conversation, especially as a computer scientist.
  • In the Laureate group session, I interacted with Prof. Frederick Brooks who is a recipient of the Turing Award. It was an amazing experience to interact and have a discussion on his achievements, how to pursue research goals, etc.
  • Later we had a dialogue discussion with Prof. Leslie Lamport and Prof. Whitfiled Diffie.
  • Finally, there was a pitch session where I volunteered to present my pitch on my PhD research. I received very good feedback to improve further.

Day 3

Again we start with the daily news event describing today’s events: world tour, laureates group discussion, poster sessions and pub quiz.

  • Though there were various world tours, there were a limited number of slots to opt for. I experienced world tours of Cameroon, Sudan and Vietnam. There are so many wonderful places to explore.
  • The Lindau Lecture by Prof. Donna Strickland was so much amazing and interactive, filled with beautiful dancing photons and animations.
  • Later, we hada laureate discussion on “Ethical, Societal and Environmental Implications of Information Technology”. This session highlighted the strong connections between mathematics and computer science and their implications for society at large.
  • Laureate Group Session: Prof. Alessio Figalli: In interaction, I asked about the non-convex optimization (It is an open research problem) My takeaway in that session: Always read your paper after you forget. After writing your paper, you put it in a drawer and read it after a month at least, to find mistakes.
  • Poster Session: A lot of posters on various topics. I interacted with a lot of participants to know their research work.
  • One of the best events of HLF is the PUB quiz. All participants were grouped into two people. I was with Bootan Rahman. The quiz was organized using the Kahoot app where we need to submit our answers. My group scored approx 9k points and we came around 18th rank. The whole quiz was divided into five fun rounds. Overall this was a fun event where we laughed and interacted.

Day 4

We again start with the daily news session: Laureate discussion, short interview, an interactive session as career path in both academic and business, closing ceremony and an after party

  • We initiated with the laureate discussion on “Advances in Computer Science, Mathematics and Computing” by Prof. Yoshua Bengio, Prof. Yann LeCun, Prof. Avi Wigderson and Prof. Alessio Figalli. To highlight the connection between the advancements in computer science and mathematics along with their implication to society. This was one of the best laureate discussions. Summary of viewpoints that I collected from the above session:
    • Bengio: Killer drones, regulating AI at places of human dignity,
    • Yann: Use of AI in automatic braking systems in the car (saves lives), Simulations to find the catalyst to separate hydrogen and oxygen (Power generation and energy storage), Content management and filtering using AI to filter the information that we see. Worried about is AI going to invade my privacy (it is based on availability of data but not AI).
    • Alessio: Behind the scenes of computers how things are computing (it will be left behind after 10 years) eg algebra and other computations automated. These four are frontiers in their field.
    • What makes you keep on going further?: Yann: All success on AI, another paradigm of learning based on animal biology or babies, How to make reasoning with learning, Overall machine learning can have common sense, overall SELF SUPERVISED LEARNING., Bengio: focused on reasoning part, AI is still not robust enough as humans, abstraction and modelling, how do we discover the abstraction, Alessio: focuses on phase transition problem.
    • Where to look now?: Yann : Self Supervised learning, Yoshua : machine learning can now be applied in social goods, healthcare, education, face the next pandemic, weather, etc., Avi : Discover what u like and what they are good at – can do by experimenting and exploring, Alessio : Challenge urself with new problems (cons – frustration, pros – not limited).
  • Interview: Prof. Maria Leptin, newly appointed President of the European Research Council (ERC), discussed the future of science and offered sound advice to young researchers on how to maintain a keen perspective.
  • Later, we had a panel discussion on “The Scientific Vocation Revisited – Can Future Discoveries be Made by Artificial Intelligence”. This session was very interactive and everybody enjoyed it.
  • I also met Prof. Finken to discuss future opportunities.
  • In the Fishbowl discussion, I interacted with Prof. Harry Collins about the future of technology, extending the capacity of AI beyond humans (not accomplished until now).
  • In the scientific interaction, we discussed various career opportunities after PhD with Prof. Barbara Liskov. I also got the chance to personally interact with HLF alumni Norine Coenen. This was a very nice experience.
  • And finally, good times come to an end with the awesome and beautiful closing ceremony. The dance performance of the HLF team was amazing
  • Finally, we also got the opportunity to show our moves (avatars) in the Afterparty hub.

Overall it was an LIFE CHANGING! experience

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