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« Keynote 2: Computational Sustainability: Computing for a Better World and a Sustainable Future AI for Accelerating Scientific Discovery

Keynote 2: Computational Sustainability: Computing for a Better World and a Sustainable Future AI for Accelerating Scientific Discovery

May 16, 2023, 9:10 AM - 10:00 AM



Rutgers University

CoRE Building

96 Frelinghuysen Road

Piscataway, NJ 08854

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Carla Gomes, Cornell University

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a rapidly advancing field. Novel machine learning methods combined with reasoning and search techniques have led us to reach new milestones: from computer vision, machine translation, and Go world-champion level play, to self-driving cars. These ever-expanding AI capabilities open new exciting avenues for advances in new domains. I will discuss our AI research for advancing scientific discovery for a sustainable future. In particular, I will talk about our research in a new interdisciplinary field, Computational Sustainability, which has the overarching goal of developing computational models and methods to help manage the balance between environmental, economic, and societal needs for a sustainable future. I will provide examples of computational sustainability problems, ranging from biodiversity and wildlife conservation to multi-criteria strategic planning of hydropower dams in the Amazon basin and materials discovery for renewable energy materials. This work was featured in the Communications of ACM, in a cover article entitled Computational sustainability: computing for a better world and a sustainable future . I will also talk about our work on AI for accelerating the discovery for new solar fuels materials, which has been featured in Nature Machine Intelligence, in a cover article entitled, Automating crystal-structure phase mapping by combining deep learning with constraint reasoning. In this work, we propose an approach called Deep Reasoning Networks (DRNets), which requires only modest amounts of (unlabeled) data, in sharp contrast to standard deep learning approaches. DRNets reach super-human performance for crystal-structure phase mapping, a core, long-standing challenge in materials science, enabling the discovery of solar-fuels materials. DRNets provide a general framework for integrating deep learning and reasoning for tackling challenging problems. For an intuitive demonstration of our approach, using a simpler domain, we also solve variants of the Sudoku problem. The article DRNets can solve Sudoku, speed scientific discovery, provides a perspective for a general audience about DRNets. Finally, I will highlight cross-cutting computational themes and challenges for AI at the intersection of constraint reasoning and deep learning. 

[Video]   [Slides]

Speaker Bio: Carla Gomes is the Ronald C. and Antonia V. Nielsen Professor of Computing and Information Science, the director of the Institute for Computational Sustainability at Cornell University, and co-director of the Cornell University AI for Science Institute. Gomes received a Ph.D. in computer science in artificial intelligence from the University of Edinburgh. Her research area is Artificial Intelligence with a focus on large-scale constraint reasoning, optimization, and machine learning. Recently, Gomes has become deeply immersed in research on scientific discovery for a sustainable future and, more generally, in research in the new field of Computational Sustainability. Computational Sustainability aims to develop computational methods to help solve some of the key environmental, economic, and societal challenges to help put us on a path toward a sustainable future. Gomes was the lead PI of two NSF Expeditions in Computing awards. Gomes has (co-)authored over 200 publications, which have appeared in venues spanning Nature, Science, and a variety of conferences and journals in AI and Computer Science, including five best paper awards. Gomes was named the “most influential Cornell professor” by a Merrill Presidential Scholar (2020). Gomes was also the recipient of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Feigenbaum Prize (2021) for “high-impact contributions to the field of artificial intelligence, through innovations in constraint reasoning, optimization, the integration of reasoning and learning, and through founding the field of Computational Sustainability, with impactful applications in ecology, species conservation, environmental sustainability, and materials discovery for energy” and of the 2022 ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award, for contributions bridging computer science and other disciplines. Gomes is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).