Seminars & Colloquia

David Karger


"Why everyone should be their own database administrator, UI designer, application developer, and web site builder, and how they can."

Monday December 04, 2006 04:00 PM
Location: 313, MRC NCSU Centennial Campus
(Visitor parking instructions)

This talk is part of the Triangle Computer Science Distinguished Lecturer Series


Abstract: Although computers are touted as tools that help us manage information, they often seem to hinder us instead. They fail to display, or even to record, some aspect of the information that we need. They clutter their presentations with distracting inessential aspects. Information is fragmented over multiple applications and sites, making it hard to record, visualize, or navigate important connections. The operation we want to apply to data locked inside one site or application is only available at a different one.

End users can fix many of these problems themselves, if they are given the right levers for reshaping information management tools and repositories to suit their needs. In this talk, I will survey my group's explorations of three such levers: a simple, structured-but-sloppy, information model for holding whatever information a particular user considers important; a user-interface framework that can flex to present that arbitrary information; and tools that let end users 'edit' (rather than program) and share information views and workspaces that are appropriate for the data they want to record and the tasks they want to perform. Our approach offers a way to build personalized information management applications for users' own data, and to create useful aggregations and visualizations of information dispersed over the standard and Semantic Web.

Short Bio: David R. Karger is a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. His interests have ranged broadly, starting in theoretical computer science and combinatorial optimization, and moving on to information retrieval, machine learning, computer networking and systems (particularly peer-to-peer systems), and Human-Computer Interaction. His interest in efficient distributed systems led to research on distributed Web caching and to participation at the founding of Akamai technologies, while his interest in signal processing brought him to the technical advisory board of Vanu Inc.

A constant interest, however, has been personal information management, and particularly the question of how tools can be built that will actually let users do what they want with their information, instead of what their applications demand. He organized the Haystack group, and built a system by the same name, to explore this question.

Host: Kamesh Munagala, CS, Duke

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