Let me start with congratulations. It is my great pleasure to congratulate the winners of the J.K Wolf student paper award: Spencer Compton, Neha Sangwan and Jennifer Tang. Next, it is an honor to congratulate the Shannon Award winner for 2023, Professor Rüediger Urbanke, for fundamental and important contributions to the theory and practice of error correcting codes. I had the privilege of chairing the Shannon Award Committee this year, and it was a torture and a pleasure. A torture because we had such an extremely strong and well deserving set of candidates to discuss - it is my sincere hope that many of them receive the award in following years. And a pleasure, because it is indeed wonderful to have such talented senior members in our community, and because it was a joy to work with the rest of the committee members. I am looking forward to the Shannon lecture at ISIT 2023 in Tapei.
Incidentally, all videos from past Shannon Award Lectures (including the beautiful lecture of Professor Raymond Yeung, the 2022 Shannon Award winner) are available on our ITSoc website - for all interested in Information Theory, these are wonderful presentations to watch. Check also other talks available on our website! And there are a number of new mini-sites planned to appear in the next year - I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I want to thank the leadership of Brian Kurkoski and the Digital Presence Committee, who have been putting an amazing amount of effort in creating and supporting our website.
During the summer, we also held several in person events. A heartfelt thanks to everyone who joined us at Helsinki for ISIT, to share and discuss our technical results, participate in the social and outreach events and be part of our community. I want to again thank the General Chairs, Themistoklis Charalambous, Camilla Hollanti and Olav Tirkkonen; the TPC chairs, Muriel Médard, Mikael Skoglund and Aylin Yener, and the many volunteers for their tireless work that made this event possible. It was superb to see each other again in person - although I have to acknowledge with regret that many of us got Covid - it was not easy to be careful. I have been joking that while other people get Covid as a family - we got Covid as a Society. Outside the conference, Espoo was such a beautiful and serene place to visit, I know I will be looking forward to visiting again. We also held four very successful Schools of Information Theory - at UCLA (Chair: R. Wesel), IIT Mandi (Chair: S. Thakor), TU Wien (Chairs: S. Schwar and G. Pichler) and at the Shenzhen Institute for Talents Development (Chairs: S. Huang and L. Chen) - kudos to the organizers and many thanks to the hundreds of students who participated - the reports were published at our September newsletter.
Just before the start of ISIT, we concluded what was I believe a very productive BoG meeting. I am particularly excited that ISIT 2024 will be in Athens, Greece, after a successful proposal by the General Chairs, Leandros Tassiulas and Ubli Mitra. I am also very happy to announce that Professor Aaron Wagner will be joining us as 2nd-VP in the ITSoc leadership starting January 2023. During the BoG meeting, it was gratifying to see the strength and number of the results considered for awards, the generosity of our volunteers, the potential of our younger members, and the number of new initiatives proposed that we are supporting. I want to take the opportunity of this article to highlight a few of our fledging new initiatives, and to encourage all of you reading, to consider participating in or proposing one.
ITSoc Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship
Proposed and led by Stark Draper and Lalitha Vadlamani, this initiative aims to provide support to travel to Society events (mainly but not necessarily exclusively the annual IEEE International Symp. Info. Theory, and the IEEE Info. Theory Workshop). This funding is targeted to prioritize groups that are currently underrepresented at ITSoc events. These include, but are not limited to, groups that self-identify by gender, by geography, by racial or ethnic identity, by seniority (e.g., undergraduates), and by intersectional identities. Such travel scholarships are anticipated for 2023, 2024 and 2025; and would be advertised by the event organizers.
Many of us have developed teaching resources (lecture notes, problem sets, videos etc.) which we would be glad to share with our colleagues; the goal of this initiative, named ``Thomas: A site for sharing teaching resources," in honor of Thomas Cover and Joy Thomas, is to support the collection and controlled distribution of such teaching materials, through a new website. If you are a new faculty, or simply teaching a new class, or even looking for a new project, perhaps this resource can be useful to you. An adhoc committee, chaired by Martina Cardone, and including Elsa Dupraz, Pulkit Grover, Brian Kurkoski, Michael Langberg, and Samir Perlaza, are working to make this possible.
Alumni in Industry
Many of our graduate students who attend ITSoc conferences and workshops, work on topic in information theory, and publish at ITSoc journals, when they graduate they go on to work on something still very exciting but different in terms of area, that may even be outside engineering. And some of these people we are lucky that they have kept connections with our Society, but others have not. The goal of this initiative is to reconnect with students we educate who follow career paths in industry, including industries that may not be traditionally associated with ITSoc. We hope to leverage this initiative to achieve three main goals: form strong connections between ITSoc and industry, provide career development mentoring to our current graduate students and inspire exploration of new research areas to ITSoc researchers. I am grateful to our members who accepted to join our ad-hoc committee to help us with this, consisting Tom Richardson (VP Engineering, Qualcomm), Rajiv Laroia (Cofounder and CTO of Light Labs, past founder and CTO of Flarion Technologies), Devavrat Shah (Professor MIT, Co-founder of Celect) and Dakshi Agrawal (IBM Fellow and CTO, IBM AI).
Global Workshops Initiative
Proposed and led by Matthieu Bloch and Aylin Yener, the main idea is to create workshops that consist of centralized anchor online events (such as keynote lectures and panels) combined with distributed local in-person events (potentially in a hybrid format). This experimental format aims to combine the low cost, low carbon footprint and easy access of online events, with the excitement of in person interaction within regional communities. Stay tuned, more to come!
I am delighted about all these new initiatives - and again, if you would like to help us with any of these, or had any suggestions for other initiatives, we are looking forward to hearing from you!