6th HLF – Interviews with young researchers: Vasilios Mavroudis


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6th HLF – Interviews with young researchers: Vasilios Mavroudis
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Mavroudis, Vasilios
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Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation
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Young researchers at the 6th HLF sit down with Tom Geller, Tom Geller Productions, to discuss their career, mentoring and their experience at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF). The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation or any other person or associated institution involved in the making and distribution of the video. Background: The Heidelberg Laureate Forum Foundation (HLFF) annually organizes the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF), which is a networking event for mathematicians and computer scientists from all over the world. The HLFF was established and is funded by the German foundation the Klaus Tschira Stiftung (KTS), which promotes natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. The HLF is strongly supported by the award-granting institutions, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM: ACM A.M. Turing Award, ACM Prize in Computing), the International Mathematical Union (IMU: Fields Medal, Nevanlinna Prize), and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters (DNVA: Abel Prize). The Scientific Partners of the HLFF are the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) and Heidelberg University.

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[Music] so thank you again for being available
and could you tell me a little bit about what your what your research is what interests you so I work on security and privacy what I what I actually explore is trust structures I would say so I usually design systems so that's usually called security engineering but they also study the the way systems existing systems are built and you know try to find either some you know let's say security flaws in their design or try to design secure secure systems that provide the provably provide certain security properties along with you know certain operational functionality okay and how far along are you in your studies now so currently I'm in my third year so I'm doing my PhD in the UK which means you know I should more or less start you know writing up and conclude my PhD I still have some time left yeah I'm not my third year so you know my PhD is almost towards its end now so far is there anybody in particular who really inspired you in the work you're doing now so it's actually interesting because some of the people that I've been reading their papers and you know they have those papers that have been published maybe twenty or thirty years ago and they're still influential and you read them and you're like oh that's such a nice idea are actually here so for instance Leslie Lamport I've read his papers and well the ideas are kind of you know you know they stand over time so yeah absolutely several people you read their papers and
you're like well that's an amazing idea and then you maybe even read the paper again after a few years and you're equally surprised how nice that is and you remind yourself how much you liked it the first time that you met dr. Lambert before no it was my first time so I came here and I was actually keen to meet him also course the dinners logical I guess I would like to meet even though he's doing some research in a slightly different area you know you you read about people and you you either you're attracted by the research obviously but also the way they
you know they they made their contributions and so you it's such a nice opportunity because you get to talk to them and find out more about them and also meet the people behind the papers right so you did get a chance to actually talk with dr. land Portland yes yes was there anything that surprised you either about him or about his ideas when you actually met him well I mean it's always surprising because you're reading the papers and you somehow building up the the whole character in your mind and then of course that doesn't correspond to reality but you know I was pleasantly surprised by all the people I spoke with they were you know yes this is what they did they're happy to talk about it but they have new things to tell you about so I spoke with for instance dr. hellman for instance and he now he's working on some other stuff we had a very long discussion yesterday on the boat trip about what he's currently working on extensive opinion so I learned a lot even though it's not necessarily on the things that I've been working on as part of my PhD doesn't really matter it just you know the whole process of exchanging ideas is very important yeah I know he's working on world peace basically a disarmament exactly exactly I have an interesting those kind of things it's certainly not the area of my PhD but you know it's not very often that you find someone so knowledgeable so I was able to you know do a sanity check for for some for some of my ideas on certain topics that I've been reading about and he told me his what he thinks it was I was actually very nice i I have to take a second because mostly as I said I've been talking with laureates and the questions for you are a little bit different well tell me a little bit about your process for for coming here how you decided to apply gave you encouragement and that sort of thing yeah actually I am good friends with two mathematicians that attended them the years before so they were very encouraging like they came back they were very enthusiastic about the whole thing and very excited about the whole experience so they really prompted me to apply and helped me through the process I actually I had them read my application and you know from give me feedback and so I knew a little bit in advance what to expect but it's completely different when someone tells you about it and when you actually experience it so I just knew it's it was nice based on their excitement but it's different when you come here and you experience it yourself well go into that a little bit more what what did you expect so I knew there were nice lectures and nice lectures happens in lots of places and also in theory I knew
that you would get to meet all those laureates and they were accessible for you to chat with them and also get to talk with lots of people that are from maths and computer science but don't necessarily start the same thing as you but it's kind of unique in a sense because this doesn't happen elsewhere so without prior experience you don't know how that actually feels so when you come here and you're surrounded but all those very smart people it so each one of them is an expert in their particularly a particular field so one thing that happens to the ways you have to explain your results in people that are very smart but non experts in what you do so they often ask questions and they give you like feedback from from an angle that you haven't thought of because while you interact with people that are more or less in your subfield of science so that's the first thing that happens and the second thing is of course you miss you meet the lawyers and they also have a different view maybe kind of a
higher overview of the whole scientific field they're into so they can their questions is again different their feedback is again different so while all these so you mentioned dr. Lamport and I'm going to mispronounce his name the new fields medalist who's also from Greece I Khorsandi knows the sky like it is kostelec is yes thank you very much was there anybody that you met whose ideas surprised you were who really got you thinking so we had that I mean actually okay the the laureates absolutely what happened is there works by attendee was very interesting so I joined the machine learning one of the two machine learning workshops so this was actually very natural discussion take a very natural discussion took place there because it wasn't the laureates presenting but then
in the end of it there was approximately I would say half an hour of a discussion and the laureate was actually were actually actively participating so for instance what I found very interesting is well I'm not an expert in machine learning but I've been studying and trying to educate myself you know cut up follow the field where it's going things that we've been doing in machine learning or you know scientists have been doing in machine learning to be more accurate have been studying in studied in other fields of maths so there was one laureate that apparently he was an expert but he was using he gave like a small you know impromptu
lecture it at the end of that workshop and he explained that well certain things that we've been calling with this particular name or term they've been calling it somehow else because it's a different you know subfield of science so that was very interesting and he also thinks that they've discovered already in his field were directly applicable in machine learning there was also as part of that workshop again including the lorry attendant researchers a very nice discussion about ethics and we need machine learning to be transparent how can it explain say you have machine learning model taking some decisions can it explain the you know there are some now behind those decisions to us and if it does explain would we be able to explain to understand what the exploration actually means because it doesn't necessarily mean that it's gonna be in a comprehensible for us language so all this was a yeah a very insightful discussion do you remember who that
who that laureate was ah no matter if not just curious no sorry I'm very bad with names I remember how he looks like but I don't I don't remember his name sorry it's okay let's say that somebody came to you another researcher somebody from back home and said I'm thinking of applying what would you tell them yeah they should definitely do it's you know what the I will give the same advice that my my mathematic mathematician friends that prompted me to apply gave to me just be honest in your application look into you it's a actually the process of applying is also very interesting because you have to look into what you're actually interested in just write that so what brought you into science why are you interested in attending all those things they may be not by coincidence they
believe they make a good application for the for the forum but also they are useful to you as a researcher to somehow take a step back and realize what what you're doing why you're doing it because sometimes we get too much into our research we clearly enjoy it but it's always useful to take a step back and think okay what what is it that I'm doing where is it that them I want to take my research source and yeah this whole process I think this you take a week off your research to essentially self self inspect your your your positioning within the whole field where you are and it helps a lot that people here are from neighboring areas but not from your precise area of science you know it's interesting because this has come up a few times in our discussion the idea of being deep into your subject and then getting a broader perspective and it sounds like like this experience
has given you a broader perspective but still within the general area of math and computer science yeah yes absolutely also what I've been thinking of and clearly there is no right or wrong answer on that is how do important scientific contributions look like so if someone wants to you know do impactful research what are the kinds of problems he should look into I guess as a young researcher you're usually forced in sense to do some risk management so you don't undertake extremely risky projects because you know you want to get your PhD you want to do well in your a postdoc you have a kind of a steady stream of publications coming out more risky projects you may end up working on them for a few years and then in the end you don't know you either end up were going to end up with you know a very impactful result or no result at all or maybe in a and even a negative result so by talking to other people who went to the through this process and clearly they they they fell on the on the right side but this doesn't mean that they didn't have other projects that didn't actually converts to where they expected them to it's actually good to you know extract some useful you know conclusions from how you
should the manager is here is how you should structure your research to be more efficient and also enjoy a life that sounds important I think that's all I had to say was there anything else you wanna turn no I think it was yeah I think I covered everything not nothing in particular actually what I was thinking this morning was what I just said about how do important
scientific contributions look like both in terms of how those problems look like and also how you should approach your how you should structure your research to tackle these kind of challenges actually I'd like to follow that just a little bit more because it comes up sometimes how much do you focus on your topic and now well how much is it about the content of your topic and how much is it about the content of your character and how you live and how you approach problems and that sort of thing as being here affected your view on that in any way yeah I was actually surprised by them maybe I should have expected that but they didn't so lots of laureates had at least a small part in their talks where they said they stress the importance of having like a essentially work-life balance so it's important to be a good researcher but it turns out it's also important to have a kind of balance in your personal life whatever that means you know it's very tempting to just stay in the lab the whole time because it's very exciting to be honest right you the more you stay there the more you progress with your research you get you get closer to have answers to the questions that we've been working on for maybe a year or more so it's very tempting to spend all your time there but from what I I could grasp from what the lawyers said is well another hour in the lab may be less efficient than spending an hour with your family or your loved ones or whoever we want to be with or doing an activity that you actually enjoy outside of lab and then coming back with a kind of a fresh mind to work back on that problem so that may be actually more efficient way of doing things this doesn't mean you don't have to work hard it's just that well you can take some time off it's okay well thank you I appreciate you taking the time thank you so much [Music] you


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