Saturday, May 07, 2011

"If what you are doing is not important, and if you don't think it is going to lead to something important, why are you at Bell Labs working on it?"

As I was going through my batch of links last night, I noticed the following:

J. T. Parker, V. Cevher, and P. Schniter, ``Compressive Sensing under Multiplicative Uncertainties: An Approximate Message Passing Approach,'' submitted to Proc. Asilomar Conf. on Signals, Systems, and Computers (Pacific Grove, CA), Nov. 2011

on Phil Schniter's page.From the Call of Paper of the conference:

Notifications of acceptance will be mailed by mid July 2011, and author information will be available on the conference website by late July 2011.

I and the hardware folks, look forward to the results of this investigation! Thanks JasonPhil, Volkan for looking into this important problem. It is important the way Hamming describes it in his speech You and Your Research:
...Over on the other side of the dining hall was a chemistry table. I had worked with one of the fellows, Dave McCall; furthermore he was courting our secretary at the time. I went over and said, ``Do you mind if I join you?'' They can't say no, so I started eating with them for a while. And I started asking, ``What are the important problems of your field?'' And after a week or so, ``What important problems are you working on?'' And after some more time I came in one day and said, ``If what you are doing is not important, and if you don't think it is going to lead to something important, why are you at Bell Labs working on it?'' I wasn't welcomed after that; I had to find somebody else to eat with! That was in the spring....

Currently the important problems in our field is the mismatch between the promises of compressive sensing and its current hardware implementation. An important sub-problem is figuring out the level of "noise" admissible so that we can fulfill the promises of these random sensing systems. In this instance, this is the job of the applied math folks to provide the hardware sensing crowd with actual requirements, even if that means that the sensor has to be much better

1 comment:

Richard Gordon said...

We reviewed innovation at Bell Labs in:

Poulin, B.J. & R. Gordon (2001). How to organize science funding: the new Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), an opportunity to vastly increase innovation. Canadian Public Policy 27(1), 95-112.

Why are Bell, 3M and the intramural program at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) so successful at inspiring innovation? How does the Medical Research Council of Canada (MRC) compare and conflict with innovation in Ihese examples? Will the existing and proposed structure and culture of the new Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), which are replacing MRC, produce relatively little innovation from the outset? Our examination leads to recommendations for an alternative funding system and organzational structure for CIHR: minimal structure with baseline funding at the initial, idea stage (40 percent of budget); more formal structure and competitive funding at the feasibility stage (50 percent); and matching industrial grants for the commercialization stage (10 percent). Our alternative CIHR budget would permit baseline grants of approximately $20,000/year for each of 10,000 qualified medical investigators. 8,000 more than presently funded.

Yours, -Dick Gordon