CMS Meeting of the Minds

The CMS Meeting of the Minds (MotM) is our department's annual showcase held in conjunction with Caltech Alumni Reunion Weekend. The Caltech CMS Community, from undergrads to faculty, present their research through keynote talks, demos, and a poster session. Several hundred alums and CMS Partner Program members attend, so it’s a terrific opportunity to get to know both our department and the broader Caltech Community.

Details for the 2018 Meeting of the Minds will be posted here in early Spring. Stay tuned!

Recap: CMS Meeting of the Minds 2017

Meeting of the Minds 2017

For a recap of MotM 2016, click here.

Thank you for joining us for this year’s Meeting of the Minds!

Keynote Session: Machine Learning at Scale on the Cloud Infrastructure



Anima Anandkumar is a principal scientist at Amazon Web Services, and has recently joined the faculty in Computing and Mathematical Sciences at Caltech. Her research interests are in the areas of large-scale machine learning, non-convex optimization and high-dimensional statistics. In particular, she has been spearheading the development and analysis of tensor algorithms. She is the recipient of several awards such as the Alfred. P. Sloan Fellowship, Microsoft Faculty Fellowship, Google research award, ARO and AFOSR Young Investigator Awards, NSF CAREER Award, Early Career Excellence in Research Award at UCI, Best Thesis Award from the ACM SIGMETRICS society, IBM Fran Allen PhD fellowship, and several best paper awards. She has been featured in a number of forums such as the Quora ML session, Huffington post, Forbes, O’Reilly media, and so on. She received her B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Madras in 2004 and her PhD from Cornell University in 2009. She was a postdoctoral researcher at MIT from 2009 to 2010, an assistant professor at U.C. Irvine between 2010 and 2016, and a visiting researcher at Microsoft Research New England in 2012 and 2014.

Swami Sivasubramanian is VP in AWS in charge of all Amazon AI and Machine learning initiatives. For more details on Amazon AI: and

Previously, Swami was the General Manager of NoSQL and some big data services in AWS. He managed the engineering, product management and operations for core AWS database services that are the foundational building blocks for AWS: DynamoDB, Amazon ElastiCache (in-memory engines), Amazon QuickSight, SimpleDB and a few other big data services in the works. Swami has been awarded more than 200 patents, authored around 40 referred scientific papers and journals, and participate in several academic circles and conferences.

In addition to these, he also built more than 15 AWS Cloud Services like CloudFront, Amazon RDS, Amazon S3, Amazon's Paxos based lock service, original Amazon Dynamo etc. He was also one of the main authors for Amazon Dynamo paper ( along with Werner Vogels. Amazon Dynamo now is the foundation for many other NoSQL systems like Riak, Cassandra and Voldemort.

Joseph Spisak is part of Amazon AI and manages a team of product managers focused solely on building Deep Learning solutions including open source contributions to the Apache MXNet project. He and his team are dedicated to building tools and solutions to help democratize deep learning for the developer community and ultimately accelerate the development of deep-learning-based applications. Prior to Amazon, Joseph was at Intel where he defined and drove their Deep Learning Strategy culminating in significant investments in M&A, open source community enabling and augmentation/open sourcing of Intel’s MKL library for Deep Learning. Joseph has more than 17 years delivering products and services in Digital Video, Cloud-based Media Transcoding, Image Processing, and Machine/Deep Learning in the consumer mobile, broadcast, and cloud segments. He holds a bachelor’s in Electrical Engineering from Michigan State University, an MBA and MS in Finance from the University of Denver, and is a graduate of the Entrepreneurial and Innovation program at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Poster/Demo Session


Over 80 poster and demo presentations were featured with live music, food, and cold drinks to beat the heat! In addition, awards were presented to the recipients of the departmental Bhansali Prize, W.P. Carey & Co. Prize, and Microsoft Teaching Prizes, and CMS recipients of divisional and Institute awards were also recognized. The list of CMSers who received departmental, divisional, and Institute awards this year is below.

Meeting of the Minds 2017 Meeting of the Minds 2017 Meeting of the Minds 2017

A sampling of the Demo/Poster Session presentations is listed here. We also had some spontaneous additions on the day of the event!

Thank you to all who presented! We’re looking forward to another great lineup next year!

2017 Award Winners

CMS Departmental Awards

Bhansali Prize
Awarded to an undergraduate student for outstanding research in computer science in the current academic year.
Joon Sik Kim

W. P. Carey & Co. Prize
Awarded for outstanding doctoral dissertations in applied mathematics in the current academic year.
Albert Chern & Pengchuan Zhang

Microsoft Graduate Teaching in CMS Prize
Awarded to a graduate student for outstanding teaching and course development in computing and mathematical sciences.
Albert Chern

Microsoft Undergraduate Teaching in CMS Prize
Awarded to an undergraduate student for outstanding teaching and course development in computing and mathematical sciences.
Chinmay Nirkhe

CMS Undergrad/Grad Recipients of EAS Division & Institute Awards

Henry Ford II Scholar Award
Awarded either to the engineering student with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study, or to the engineering student with the best first-year record in the graduate program.
Ching-Yun (Chloe) Hsu

Mabel Beckman Prize
Awarded to an undergraduate woman upon completion of her junior or senior year in recognition of demonstrated academic and personal excellence, contributions to the Institute community, and outstanding qualities of character and leadership.
Nikita Sirohi

Deans’ Cup and Student Life & Master’s Awards
Selected by the deans, the director of student life, and the master of student houses, and presented to undergraduates whose concern for their fellow students has been demonstrated by persistent efforts to improve the quality of undergraduate life and by effective communication with members of the faculty and administration.
Dean’s Cup Award: Mojo Sonola
Student Life Award: Sean McKenna and Preethi Periyakoil

Donald S. Clark Memorial Award
Awarded to two juniors in recognition of service to the campus community and academic excellence.
Vinciane Chen (one of two recipients)

Jack E. Froehlich Memorial Award
Awarded to a junior in the upper five percent of his or her class who shows outstanding promise for a creative professional career.
Ching-Yun (Chloe) Hsu

Fredrick J. Zeigler Memorial Award
Awarded to a pure or applied mathematics student in his or her sophomore or junior year, recognizing excellence in scholarship as demonstrated in class activities or in the preparation of an original paper or essay in any subject area.
Ayya Alieva