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Gavin Young
KU Office of Public Affairs
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Provost's lecture to address compressed data structures

Mon, 03/11/2013

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Jeff Vitter will present his inaugural lecture as a Roy A. Roberts Distinguished Professor at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 12, in Alderson Auditorium in the Kansas Union.

Vitter’s inaugural lecture is titled “Finding your Way in a Compressed World” (compressed title: “&W$!h”). 

The lecture is free and open to the public. The tradition of inaugural lectures at KU was established in 1981 to enable distinguished professors to share their scholarship and research.

Vitter’s research deals with the algorithmic aspects of organizing, compressing and communicating massive amounts of information.  In this talk, Vitter discusses recent breakthroughs in the field of compressed data structures, in which text documents are stored in compressed form but without the need to uncompress the documents in order to search them. These approaches allow search in a more general form than done by Google and other search engines.

“From the beginning of my graduate studies, I’ve always been fascinated about the challenge of how to exploit data without falling prey to it,” Vitter said. “The growing proliferation of data — what we now call ‘big data’ — offers numerous avenues to extract new knowledge and make connections we were not able to previously.”

Vitter began as provost and executive vice chancellor at KU in July 2010. Before coming to KU, he held a similar post at Texas A&M University from 2008 to 2009. From 2002 to 2008, he served as the Frederick L. Hovde Dean of the College of Science and Professor of Computer Science at Purdue University. He has served as distinguished professor and faculty chair at Duke University and on the faculty at Brown University.

Vitter earned his B.S. with highest honors in mathematics in 1977 from the University of Notre Dame and a doctorate in computer science under Professor Donald Knuth in 1980 from Stanford University. He also earned an MBA in 2002 from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

He has been elected a Fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He has been named a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator, a Fulbright Scholar and an IBM Faculty Development Awardee. He has more than 300 book, journal, conference and patent publications.



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