Bocconi is Looking for Assistant Professors in Computer Science

[application page] [call for applications]

Bocconi University is looking for two Tenure-Track Assistant Professors in Computer Science, for positions starting in Fall 2021. This is in the context of a build-up toward a new department focused on Computer Science, which is part of the University’s strategic plan, and which is expected to be launched by Fall 2022.

Bocconi is Italy’s premiere private University, located in Milan. It is well known for its excellence in Economics and Management, and a few years ago it has begun a push into the hard sciences and engineering. Currently it offers a Bachelor on Economics, Management and Computer Science, a Bachelor on Mathematical and Computing Sciences for Artificial Intelligence, and a Master’s in Data Science and Analytics. There is a PhD program in Statistics and Computer Science. Additional programs related to computing are being planned.

The University negotiates salaries on an individual basis, and is able to put together very competitive offer packages. Scholars moving to Milan from outside Italy gain, in addition, a 6+ year tax break (90% of the salary is exempt from income tax). The University provides relocation benefits and employs full time staff to assist non-Italian-speaking faculty. Students are admitted on the basis of a competitive admission exam. A large fraction of them are foreigners, and the general academic level is fairly high.

A special note for Italians on how the position relates to positions in public Universities (in Italian because this is only a local concern): la posizione di “assistant professor” è simile a quella di RTDA, ma è un contratto di diritto privato. Dopo una valutazione intermedia, si passa ad una posizione simile a RTDB, ma sempre con un contratto distinto di diritto privato, e dopo una tenure review si viene promossi ad associati. I ruoli di associati ed ordinari sono inquadrati nel sistema nazionale e parificati (a parte la possibilità di una integrazione salariale) ai corrispettivi ruoli nell’università pubblica. Anche se non sono io la persona più qualificata per discutere questi aspetti, rispondo volentieri a qualunque domanda.

And now for something completely different

After 22 years in the United States, 19 of which spent in the San Francisco Bay Area, this Summer I will move to Milan to take a job at Bocconi University.

Like a certain well-known Bay Area institution, Bocconi is a private university that was endowed by a rich merchant in memory of his dead son. Initially characterized by an exclusive focus on law, economics and business, it has had for a while a high domestic recognition for the quality of teaching and, more recently, a good international profile both in teaching and research. Despite its small size, compared to Italy’s giant public universities, in 2017 Bocconi was the Italian university which had received the most ERC grants during the first ten years of existence of the European Research Council (in second place was my Alma Mater, the Sapienza University of Rome, which has about nine times more professors) (source).

About three years ago, Bocconi started planning for a move in the space of computing, in the context of their existing efforts in data science. As a first step, they recruited Riccardo Zecchina. You may remember Riccardo from his work providing a non-rigorous calculation of the threshold of random 3-SAT, his work on the “survey propagation” algorithm for SAT and other constraint satisfaction problems, as well as other work that brought statistical physics techniques to computer science. Currently, Riccardo and his group are doing very exciting work on the theory of deep learning.

Though I knew of his work, I had never met Riccardo until I attended a 2017 workshop at the Santa Fe Institute on “Thermodynamics and computation,” an invitation that I had accepted on whim, mostly based on the fact that I had never been to New Mexico and I had really liked Breaking Bad. Riccardo had just moved to Bocconi, he told me about their future plans, and he asked me if I was interested. I initially politely declined, but one thing led to another, and now here I am putting up my San Francisco house for sale.

Last August, as I was considering this move, I applied for an ERC grant from the European Union, and I just learned that the grant has been approved. This grant is approximately the same amount as the total of all the grants that I have received from the NSF over the past twenty years, and it will support several postdoc positions, as well as visitors ranging from people coming for a week to give a talk and meet with my group to a full-year sabbatical visit.

Although it’s a bit late for that, I am looking for postdocs starting as early as this September: if you are interested please contact me. The postdoc positions will pay a highly competitive salary, which will be free of Italian income tax (although American citizens will owe federal income tax to the IRS correction: American citizens would not owe anything to IRS either). As a person from Rome, I am not allowed to say good things about Milan or else I will have to return my Roman card (it’s kind of a NY versus LA thing), but I think that the allure of the city speaks for itself.

Likewise, if you are a senior researcher, and you have always wanted to visit me and work together on spectral methods, approximation algorithms, graph theory or graph algorithms, but you felt that Berkeley had insufficiently many Leonardo mural paintings and opera houses, and that it was too far from the Alps, then now you are in luck!