SoCS 2011

Related Conferences

Past SoCS Conferences
2010 Atlanta, GA
2009 Lake Arrowhead, CA
2008 Chicago, IL

SoCS 2011: The Fourth Annual Symposium on Combinatorial Search


We are pleased to have the following two invited speakers at this year SoCS conference:

Invited Speakers

Jur van den Berg
Talk Title: Recent advances in collision avoidance and motion planning for autonomous robots


One of the main challenges in robotics is to create truly autonomous robots for home, hospital, and public environments. This talk will focus on the challenges of autonomous motion for mobile agents and presents an overview of my work on reciprocal collision avoidance, with applications in mobile robotics, crowd simulation, and animation of virtual characters for computer games. I will also discuss my recent work on planning and control under motion and sensing uncertainty with applications in medical robotics, such as automated robotic surgery and robotic control of steerable needles. Finally, the long-term prospects for the future development of robot autonomy as it relates to these application domains will be discussed.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Jur van den Berg obtained his MSc in Computer Science at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands, in 2003. He obtained his PhD in Computer Science at Utrecht University, the Netherlands in 2007 with his thesis titled "Path Planning in Dynamic Environments". After that, he has been a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2007-2009, 2010-2011), and at the University of California, Berkeley (2009-2010). Since the summer of 2011, Jur is assistant professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah. Jur's research interests lie in algorithmic robotics, with a particular focus on robot collision avoidance, planning, and control in application domains such as medical robotics, crowd simulation, virtual environments and computer games, autonomous transportation, and personal robotics.

Wheeler Ruml
Talk Title: Search Algorithms as Agents


In a traditional conception of AI, search algorithms are the reasoning engines buried deep inside an agent's head. They are subroutines inside a potentially complex agent architecture that handles sensing and uncertainity in service of optimizing the agent's utility. But search algorithms themelves confront the same challenges as an agent. Operating under conditions of limited information and expensive sensing, they must select actions (which node to expand) to optimize their utility. This analogy has led my group to investigate search algorithms that exploit sources of heuristic information beyond the traditional lower bound on cost-to-go, including unbiased inadmissible estimates of cost-to-go and search-distance-to-go. This talk will present several examples taken from our recent work on suboptimal and time-sensitive heuristic search.

About the Speaker:

Wheeler Ruml is an assistant professor of computer science at the University of New Hampshire. His research interests include heuristic search and planning, with a current emphasis on time-aware decision-making. Before joining UNH in 2007, he managed the Embedded Reasoning Area at the Palo Alto Research Center. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 2002. And yes, Wheeler is his real name.