Introduction of docent applicants: Valentin Polishchuk, Jukka Suomela, Petteri Nurmi, and Matti Järvisalo

Valentin Polishchuk, Jukka Suomela, Petteri Nurmi, and Matti Järvisalo have applied for the title of Docent in Computer Science at the University of Helsinki. Their short biographies are included below. They will give public test lectures as follows.

Mon January 9th, 2012 in Exactum C222:

  • 12:15: Valentin Polishchuk, Shortest paths in polygonal domains (in English)
  • 12:45: Jukka Suomela, Verkon värittämistä hajautetuilla algoritmeilla (in Finnish)

Thu January 19th, 2012 in Exactum C222:

  • 10:15: Petteri Nurmi, Positioning Algorithms (in English)
  • 10:45: Matti Järvisalo, Toteutuvuustarkastuksesta (in Finnish)

This is a good opportunity to see members of the rising generation of computer science and their teaching skills.

(What is a docent? According to the Universities Act, a university may award the title of docent to a person who has comprehensive knowledge of his or her own field, a capacity for independent research or artistic work demonstrated through publication or some other manner, and good teaching skills. The research capacity is judged by external reviewers, while the teaching skills are assessed by a local committee based on material provided by the applicant and these test lectures.)

Valentin Polishchuk received a diploma in Applied Physics and Mathematics from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology in 1996. In the year 2000, he joined the PhD program in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Statistics at State University of New York at Stony Brook. In 2002, Valentin received Master of Science degree from the department. Valentin defended his Ph.D. theses in Applied Math and Statistics (concentration: Operations Research) in 2007.

Valentin worked as a researcher in the Environmental Modeling Lab of the Nuclear Safety Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences from 1998 to 2000. He was a teaching assistant at the State University of New York at Stony Brook between 2000 and 2004. From 2004 until the completion of the Ph.D,, he worked as a research assistant in Computational Geometry Lab of the Applied Math and Statistics Department at Stony Brook.

Since 2007, Valentin is a postdoctoral research with the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology and the Department of Computer Science of the University of Helsinki. For the years 2011-2013 he is supported by the Academy of Finland. Valentin’s research areas are optimization, algorithms, and computational geometry with applications in air traffic management, robotics, shape approximation, geographic information systems, wireless sensor networks.

Jukka Suomela is a postdoctoral researcher at the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT, Finland. He received his MSc in 2005, and he defended his PhD thesis at the University of Helsinki in 2009. Nowadays Suomela works in the "New Paradigms in Computing" group at HIIT. The group focuses on basic research in theoretical computer science; their key interests include the connections between computer science and mathematics, and non-standard models of computation.

Suomela's own research area is computation in distributed systems. This research field studies computational tasks related to large communication networks; examples of such tasks include routing information in the network, and sharing the limited resources efficiently among the users. The central research question of the field is understanding which computational tasks can be solved quickly in a very large network. Typically, the bottleneck is the time taken by communication between the nodes; in the design of distributed algorithms, the main challenge is to solve a task with the smallest possible number of communication steps.

Suomela approaches these foundational questions from the perspective of so-called local algorithms. A local algorithm is a distributed algorithm in which each device needs to know the structure of the communication network only in its own local neighbourhood; in spite of their limited knowledge, the devices can collaboratively solve computational tasks that are related to the entire communication network. The research area has advanced quickly during the recent years. The first local algorithms were presented in the 1990s, but it was not until the 21st century that researchers managed to design various local algorithms for a wide range of computational tasks. Suomela has had a central role in shaping the overall picture of the capabilities of local algorithms. Nevertheless, there are still numerous open research questions that are actively being studied by researchers all over the world.

Petteri Nurmi was born 22.01.1981. He started studying mathematics at the University of Helsinki at the end of 2001, and in 2002 he started studying also computer science. In 2003 he was selected to the undergraduate research track (Tutkijalinja), which also resulted in a change of major subject to computer science. From 2004 onwards he has worked at Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT, first as a research assistant, then as a doctoral student and now as a postdoctoral researcher. He received his MSc in 2006. The topic of his Thesis was game-theoretic modelling of routing in ad hoc networks. He received his PhD in October 2009, the topic of the Thesis being “Identifying Meaningful Places.”

Within Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT, Petteri Nurmi has worked in the adaptive computing research group where he has played a central role in initiating research in the field of pervasive and ubiquitous computing. During his PhD studies he conducted two three month research exchanges, first in 2007 at the National ICT Australia in Canberra, and second in 2008 at Sungkyunkwan University in Seoul. He also spent a three month period at National ICT Australia in Canberra after receiving his PhD degree.

The research interests of Petteri Nurmi include mobile sensing, mobile recommendation systems, mobile interaction techniques and intelligent information retrieval. He is specifically interested in how mobile technologies can be used to facilitate people in their everyday tasks. His teaching closely relates to his research topics, for example, during spring 2012 he arranges a course on location-awareness. 

Dr. Matti Järvisalo (born 1980, M.Sc.(Tech.) 2004, Lic.Sc.(Tech.) 2007, D.Sc.(Tech.) 2008) is currently a postdoctoral fellow of Academy of Finland at University of Helsinki, Department of Computer Science. He received his doctoral, licentiate's and master's degrees in computer science from Helsinki University of Technology (TKK). After the doctorate he has previously been a postdoctoral researcher in the Computational Logic Group at TKK and a visiting researcher at Institute for Formal Models and Verification, Johannes Kepler University (JKU Linz), Austria.

Järvisalo's main research interests include theoretical and practical aspects of solving computationally hard constraint satisfaction and optimization problems, with an emphasis on efficient Boolean-based decision and optimization procedures and their applications in contemporary and novel real-world problem domains. His recent scientific contributions have resulted for example in some of the world's best practical solvers for the Boolean satisfiability (SAT) problem. Highlighting the importance of such solvers, SAT solvers act as the critical core solving engines in an increasing number of systems developed for various real-world applications. Järvisalo's publications include over 30 internationally peer-reviewed articles published in high-quality journals and conferences.

Järvisalo acts in the scientific program committees of several international conferences, and has been involved in organizing several international events, including JELIA 2010 (as Local Chair), the 2011 SAT Competition, and SWAT 2012. Järvisalo has over 10 years of experience in teaching various basic and advanced courses within the computer science curriculum, including topics such as computational complexity theory, theory of computation, logic in computer science, and discrete optimization. Järvisalo graduated from the TKK YOOP university-level pedagogics program in 2005.

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Biographies and photos: the applicants
Editor: Hannu Toivonen

21.12.2011 - 21:31 Hannu Toivonen
21.12.2011 - 10:50 Hannu Toivonen