Postdoc Positions for 2023-24

I am looking for three postdoctoral fellows for the next academic year to work with me at Bocconi.

The positions offer an internationally competitive salary (up to 65,000 Euro per year, tax-free, plus relocation assistance and travel allowance), in a wonderful location. The strict application deadline is January 31, 2023. Each position is for one year, renewable to a second year.

Among the topics that I am interested in are spectral graph theory, average-case complexity, “applications” of semidefinite programming, random processes on networks, approximation algorithms, pseudorandomness and combinatorial constructions.

Please contact me if you are interested in these positions and you would like more information.

To apply, go to this link, and then look for the opening for 3 positions dated December 6, 2022, like the one below (unfortunately there isn’t a perma-link to the application form):

Bocconi’s Computing Sciences department has a sizable theory group, that includes Laura Sanità, who works on optimization and approximation algorithms, Alon Rosen, who works on the foundations of cryptography, Marek Elias, who works on online optimization, and Andrea Celli, who works on algorithmic game theory. Next year, Adam Polak who works on fine-grained complexity and analysis of algorithms, will also join us.

Speaking of Alon Rosen, he is also recruiting postdocs for the next academic year, and he has two open positions, that you can find at the same link looking for two positions dated December 14 with an application deadline of February 28:

Workshop on Fairness in AI

Next Monday, June 27, I am organizing a workshop on issues around fairness, bias and discrimination in AI and Machine Learning.

Here is a link to the program. Remote participation is possible (link in the website), and in-person participation is free but we ask people to register so we can print badges and order the appropriate number of coffee breaks.

This workshop is being organized in partnership with EDGE, an Italian NGO that works on LGBT rights, and it is the first event of their initiative “A+I: Algoritmi + Inclusivi”, which will feature an awareness campaign and a series of video interviews that will start after the summer.

In next week’s workshop, Oreste Pollicino from Bocconi will talk about the perspective of the legal community around algorithmic discrimination, Symeon Papadopoulos from ITI Patras will give a survey on issues of fairness in image processing and image understanding, Sanghamitra Dutta from J.P. Morgan AI will talk about how to use the theory of causality to reason about fairness, Debora Nozza and Dirk Hovy from Bocconi will talk about issues of fairness in language models and natural language processing, and Omer Reingold from Stanford and Cynthia Dwork from Harvard will talk about modeling and achieving fairness in prediction models.

The last morning session will be a panel discussion moderated by Damiano Terziotti from EDGE about perspectives from the social sciences and from outside academia. It will feature, among others, Brando Benifei, a member of the EU parliament who has played a leading role in the 2021 draft EU regulations on AI. The other panel members are Alessandro Bonaita, who is a data science lead in Generali (Italy’s largest insurance company), Luisella Giani, who is leading a technology consulting branch of Oracle for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Cinzia Maiolini, who is in the national secretariat of CGIL, an Italian Union, and Massimo Airoldi from the University of Milan.

If you are in or near Milan next week, come to what is shaping up to be a memorable event!

This Year, for Lent, Bocconi Gave Up Not Having a CS Department

Yesterday, Bocconi’s Rector signed the decree that created the new Computing Sciences department. This is only the ninth department to be created in our 120 year old university, and the first, I believe, in a couple of decades. It is the first department with an engineering and science mission (the other eight department are, in random order, Accounting, Marketing, Finance, Economics, Managements, Social Sciences, Law, and Decision Sciences).

A few weeks ago, we were joined by Francesca Buffa and Marc Mezard.

Francesca, a computational biologist formerly at Oxford medical school, is now the fourth out of four computer science tenured faculty in our new department to have an active ERC grant.

Marc’s work has spanned theoretical physics, information theory and computation, including his collaboration with Giorgio Parisi’s Nobel Prize winning work, and he has been most recently the president of the Ecole National Superieure in Paris. When we asked for letters for his tenure case, one of the reviewers wrote, more or less in so many words, “you would be lucky to have Marc in your university, though it’s very unlikely that he will accept your offer”. At that point Marc had already accepted.

Bocconi is hiring Assistant Professors of Computer Science

Bocconi University is recruiting for tenure-track positions in computer science.

Some details are here. Candidates must apply online by January 15 (end of day Central Europe time) for the application to be considered. To apply online, go to and look at the only opening that has a Jan 15 expiration (currently it is at the top of the list). The negotiable start date is September, 2022. By that time the new Computing Sciences department will be fully operational.

We are interested in all areas of computer science. Alon Rosen, Dirk Hovy and I are very happy to talk to prospective candidates about what the university is like and what are its plans for developing computer science.

The university pays internationally competitive salary and provides relocation assistance. The language of instructions of all computer science courses at both undergraduate and graduate levels is English.

Scholars of any nationality who have not lived in Italy for the past two years and who move to Italy to take a university tenure-track or tenured position pay almost no income tax for six years, or more if they buy a home in Italy and/or have children under the age of 18.

For Italians working in Italy: this position is governed by a private-law contract with Bocconi, which is not the same as a RDTA or RDTB position, although the terms are similar.

Subject to a successful mid-term review (which usually happens after three years), and a successful tenure review (which happens within five years from the mid-term review, or possibly earlier depending on the background of the candidate), assistant professors are promoted to associate professors with tenure. (For those familiar with the Italian system, the latter positions are fully recognized as professore associato by the ministry of university.)

The Third Annual “Why am I in Italy and you are not?” post

I moved back to Italy exactly two years ago. I was looking for some change and for new challenges and, man, talk about being careful what you wish for!

Last year was characterized by a sudden acceleration of Bocconi’s plans to develop a computer science group. From planning for a slow growth of a couple of people a year until, in 5-7 years, we could have the basis to create a new department, it was decided that a new computer science department would start operating next year — perhaps as soon as February 2022, but definitely, or at least to the extent that one can make definite plans in these crazy times, by September 2022.

Consequently, we went on a hiring spree that was surprisingly successful. Five computer scientists and four statistical physicists have accepted our offers and are coming between now and next summer. In computer science, Andrea Celli (who won the NeurIPS best paper award last year) and Marek Elias started today. Andrea, who is coming from Facebook London, works in algorithmic game theory, and Marek, who is coming TU Eindhoven, works in optimization. Within the next couple of weeks, or as soon as his visa issues are sorted out, Alon Rosen will join us from IDC Herzliya as a full professor. Readers of in theory may know Alon from his work on lattice-based cryptography, or his work on zero-knowledge, or perhaps his work on the cryptographic hardness of finding Nash equilibria. Two other computer science tenured faculty members are going to come, respectively, in February and September 2022, but I am not sure if their moves are public yet.

Meanwhile, I have been under-spending my ERC grant, but perhaps this is going to change and some of my readers will help me out.

If you are interested in coming to Milan for a post-doc, do get in touch with me. A call will be out in a month or so.

After twenty years in Northern California, I am still readjusting to seasonal weather. September is among Milan’s best months: the oppressive heat of the summer gives way to comfortable days and cool nights, but the days are still bright and sunny. Currently, there is no quarantine requirement or other travel restrictions for fully vaccinated international travellers. If you want to visit, this might be your best chance until Spring Break (last year we had a semi-lockdown from late October until after New Year, which might very well happen again; January and February are not Milan’s best months; March features spectacular cherry blossoms, and it is again an ok time to visit).

So you want to move to Milan

Ten weeks into my move to Italy I am feeling more and more settled. I even eventually got a Milan bus card, which proves that if you really believe in yourself you can achieve anything. I held a midterm for my theoretical computer science undergraduate class, and there were zero students asking for special accommodations and zero students complaining to me about their grade.

According to our national tradition, I like to complain, but Bocconi is really not giving me much to work with.

But enough about me, let’s talk about you. I am going to assume that you want to come to Milan, because, really, why not? Here are some ways in which this can happen:

  • You are a high school senior and you would like to study computer science in college, but you like math as well: next academic year, Bocconi is starting a new undergraduate program on math and CS
  • You are an undergraduate or masters student applying to PhD programs and you would like to work with me: next academic year, Bocconi is starting a new PhD program on statistics and computer science
  • You are a theory PhD student and you are looking for what to do next summer: I would be interested in hosting graduate students for part of next summer, especially during the month of July. Ask your advisor to contact me if this is something that you would be interested in
  • You are a graduating theory PhD student and you are looking for a postdoc next year: I will have one or two openings for postdocs next year. The call for applications will be up soon. The tax-free salary will be very competitive and Bocconi has exceptionally well-functioning processes to get non-Italian-speakers settled in, help them do the immigration paperwork, look for housing, finding English-speaking primary care physicians, etc.
  • You are (or might be tempted to be) on the job market for a faculty position: in light of all the new initiatives on computing, and the current staff of one computer science professor, Bocconi would like to hire at all levels, preferably at the levels of Associate Professor or Full Professor, in computer science, especially in theory and in AI. Salaries are very competitive, they are essentially tax-free for six years for people who have not lived in Italy in the past two years, all teaching is in English, and the university makes it very easy for foreigners to settle in.
  • You are a professor and your sabbatical is coming up, or you arranged your teaching to have a semester without teaching to do some traveling: contact me if you are interested in visiting for any length of time.

I am in Baltimore for FOCS through Tuesday morning if you want to talk to me in person.

What’s New

It has been six weeks since I moved to Milan, and I am not yet completely settled in yet.

For example, although, as of yesterday, I finally have working wired internet access in my place, I still do not have a bus card (obtaining the latter has been one of the most stubbornly intractable problems I have encountered) and all the stuff that I did not carry in two bags is still in transit in a container.

Meanwhile, the busyness of handling the move, getting settled, trying to get a bus card, and teaching two courses, has meant that I did not really have time to sit down with my thoughts and process my feelings about such a major life change. If people ask me what I miss about San Francisco I will, truthfully, say something like UberX, or Thai food, or getting a bus card from a vending machine, because I still have not had a chance to miss the bigger stuff. Similarly, this post will be about random small stuff.

Continue reading