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Gavin Young
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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.



Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner. See it here: http://bit.ly/1awodaa
Rock Chalk! Junior Ashlie Koehn named KU's 18th Truman Scholar
Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening.

.@KU bschool 's KIP team includes @KU _SADP students in all-ages housing project. http://t.co/c6Ss0FsWLL #KUworks http://t.co/FW0eI69uRi
Wanna Skype? Chancellor gets creative to surprise Truman winner From KU News Service: http://bit.ly/1awodaa Ashlie Koehn, a University of Kansas junior from Burns studying in Kyrgyzstan, interrupted helping her host family prepare dinner to make a Skype call on Monday evening. To her surprise, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was on the other end of the call letting Koehn know she had been named a 2015 Harry S. Truman Scholar. Koehn is the 18th KU student to be named a Truman Scholar and the only 2015 recipient from the state of Kansas. Earlier this month, she was also named a 2015 Udall Scholar. And in spite of a distance of more than 10,800 kilometers and 11 time zones, Koehn’s thrill from hearing the news from the chancellor came through loud and clear. “Ashlie’s experience at KU epitomizes a quality undergraduate experience. She challenged herself in her coursework, exposed herself to different research opportunities, studied abroad in Germany, Switzerland and Kyrgyzstan, and participated in both student government and community service projects,” Gray-Little said. “This is quite a year for Ashlie. Her hard work is a wonderful reflection on her and also a great reflection on the university, and we all congratulate her.” Each new Truman Scholar receives up to $30,000 for graduate study. Scholars also receive priority admission and supplemental financial aid at some premier graduate institutions, leadership training, career and graduate school counseling, and special internship opportunities within the federal government. Koehn, a member of KU’s nationally recognized University Honors Program, is majoring in environmental studies, economics and international studies. Her goal after earning her KU degree is to pursue a master’s degree in economics at either the London School of Economics or the University of Reading, with a focus on the economics of climate change. In 2014, she received KU’s Newman Civic Engagement Award for her work establishing the Coalition against Slavery and Trafficking. Her involvement with the issue was sparked by Hannah Britton, associate professor of political science and women, gender, and sexuality studies, who hosted national conference on contemporary slavery at KU three years ago. “Ashlie and I met several times to think about what KU students could contribute to the issue of slavery and human trafficking, and the result was her founding of KU CAST,” Britton said. “After a year as president, Ashlie successfully handed the organization over to the next student leader. She demonstrated her strong leadership qualities by setting a unique goal and then pursuing it with her sense of passion, engagement and dedication. No matter the country or context, her leadership strength is evident in her coursework, her public service and her work experiences.” The University Honors Program works with a campus committee to select KU’s nominees for the Truman Scholarship and supports them during the application process. Anne Wallen, assistant director of national fellowships and scholarships, noted it was an amazing ruse to pull off the surprise. Originally, the call was set up to be between Wallen and Koehn. “I was totally not prepared to be greeted by Chancellor Gray-Little, but it was an amazing surprise for sure,” Koehn said. “As a first-generation student, it took time to learn the collegiate system, but my parents taught me to be resourceful and independent from a young age and KU and the Kansas Air National Guard have provided me with the opportunities to drive me into the future, both at graduate school and in my career. I plan to use the Truman Scholarship to pursue a career as an environmental economist helping to shape future trade agreements and leverage action on important international environmental issues, particularly concerning climate change.” Koehn also had a surprise of her own for the chancellor — the meal she was helping to prepare was not exactly typical Kansas dinner fare. On the menu with her host family in Kyrgyzstan on Monday was a traditional Kyrgyz meal called Beshbarmak, or “five fingers,” because you eat it with your hands. The dish is made of horse and sheep and was being prepared as a birthday celebration for Koehn’s host mom. Chancellor Gray-Little, as she signed off from Skype, made sure to encourage Koehn to enjoy her Beshbarmak. Koehn is the daughter of Rodney and Carolyn Koehn of Burns. She graduated from Fredric Remington High School in Moundridge. She is an active member of the Kansas Air National Guard and currently on leave while studying abroad in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. She is a member of the KU Global Scholars Program and a past member of the Student Senate. In addition to being named a 2015 Truman and Udall scholar, she was named a 2014 Boren Scholar and Gilman Scholar and in 2013 was named the Kansas Air National Guard Airman of the Year.


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