Tuesday, July 26, 2011

ACM-W Scholarship recipient wins Best Presentation Award

Congratulations to ACM-W travel scholarship recipient Tasneem Kaochar, University of Arizona, who received the Best Presentation Award at the IJCAI 2011 workshop on Agents Learning Interactively from Human Teachers (ALIHT), which concluded this past weekend.

The conference was held in Barcelona. Tasneem's travel was supported by three sources:
The abstract for the paper that was presented follows.

Raquel Torres Peralta, Tasneem Kaochar, Ian Fasel, Clay Morrison, Tom Walsh and Paul Cohen.
Challenges to Decoding the Intention Behind Natural Instruction (Extended Abstract).

Abstract: Currently, most systems for human-robot teaching allow only one mode of teacher-student interaction (e.g., teaching by demonstration or feedback), and teaching episodes have to be carefully set-up by an expert. To understand how we might integrate multiple, interleaved forms of human instruction into a robot learner, we performed a behavioral study in which 44 untrained humans were allowed to freely mix interaction modes to teach a simulated robot (secretly controlled by a human) a complex task. Analysis of transcripts showed that human teachers often give instructions that require considerable interpretation and are not easily translated into a form useable by machine learning algorithms. In particular, humans often use implicit instructions, fail to clearly indicate the boundaries of procedures, and tightly interleave testing, feedback, and new instruction. In this paper, we detail these teaching patterns and discuss the challenges they pose to automatic teaching interpretation as well as the machine-learning algorithms that must ultimately process these instructions. We highlight the challenges by demonstrating the difficulties of an initial automatic teacher interpretation system.

ACM-W, with funding from Wipro Technologies, provides support for women undergraduate and graduate students in Computer Science and related programs who wish to attend research conferences. Exposure to the CS research world can be an important factor in encouraging a student to continue on to the next level (Undergraduate to Graduate, Masters to Ph.D., Ph.D. to an industry or academic position). The student does not have to present a paper at the conference she attends. Interested students should visit the ACM-W travel scholarship page.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Women in technology conferences and women's rights: The Disconnect
Ambassador: Gayatri Buragohain, India

I just returned from Bangalore after attending the first Grace Hopper Conference (GHC) in India organized by the US based non-profit Anita Borg Institute of Women and Technology (ABI). This conference is a celebration of women in technology, a conference to discuss woman's role in technical workforce and find solutions to the challenges faced by women in the technical workforce owing to which there is such low representation of women in technology.

Recently I also attended the 10th Grace Hopper Conference in USA (also organized by ABI) and the Amrita ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing (A2CWIC) in Coimbatore, India (organized in the Amrita University). The GHC in USA was spectacular. ABI has been organizing this conference for years and they really are good in what they do. The A2CWIC was the first of such conference in India with almost 1200 participants out of which 720 were women, mostly students. I was also involved in organizing the conference as the ACM-W Ambassador in India, but really the team from Amrita University were the real brains and sweat behind it. I intended to blog about it as well, however failed as I anyway expected. Writing is not a very flowing skill for me.

But after attending the GHC India I felt I need to write a piece on my experience after attending 3 consecutive conferences on women and technology. I believe that the new dialogue on women’s role in technology is a critical component of the discussion on women’s role in decision-making and I feel very happy to see this finally happening in India. Three years back when I decided to start FAT, I did massive search for any initiative related to women and technology and found that there was none except the diversity conference organized by NASSCOM, which was not exactly what I was looking for. So this new league of women and technology conferences, though they are still far from having all streams of technology included in them, seem like a breath of fresh air to me. (All these conferences were mainly for women in computing.)

Read the rest of the post on Gayatri's blog.