Two great opportunities for in-person discussions about machine learning for physics


After more than a year of forced containment, due to the still ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, academics around the world seem to have settled on the idea that after all, we can still do our job via the videoconferencing. We had to adapt to the situation like everyone else, of course, and in a general sense we are a privileged minority – other human occupations which are only possible in person have suffered much more.

International conferences are one of the things that could be reconfigured the fastest. In the past, video conference presentations were a last resort, and they were used very rarely and only in cases where, for example, a critical stakeholder lost a flight or was unable to attend in person. Now it seems only natural that a conference can be followed from your living room. But this is, of course, completely contrary to the spirit and the main objective of these events, which aim to allow scientists to meet, interact, exchange ideas, create links. . Most of this part is lost when you can only look at a computer screen.

It is therefore with apprehension that I consider attending two events in person. The first is a Machine Learning mini-workshop which will take place in parallel session of the Xth International Conference on New Frontiers in Physics between August 23 and 31, in the very nice setting of the Orthodox Academy of Crete in Kolympari, and the second is a workshop on differentiable programming for the optimization of experimental design, to be held in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium) from September 6 to 8.

The two events are quite different, and yet they will provide a similar opportunity for physicists and machine learning enthusiasts: to meet in person. Of course, there will be an option to lecture online – the hybrid formula is here to stay; but the idea is that we will be able to interact in person during these events, and this is especially important when you bring two different communities together, as is the case with the second event, which aims to bring together physicists with optimization problems. in the same room with IT specialists with an advanced tool to customize.

So if you have a nice fundamental physics application of an advanced deep learning tool that you would like to discuss, or just a challenging application that you would like a member of the IT community to help you with, the second event should be something to consider. Instead, the conference in Crete will offer, besides the beautiful surroundings and the perks (the conference venue overlooks the sea and has a beach 100 meters from the conference hall, and I won’t mention the food) , a broad overview of the state of fundamental physics research, so if you attend the mini-workshop and lecture on your machine learning application, you will be able to update yourself on a variety of topics.

As the organizer of both events, I am available to answer your questions, but I certainly encourage you to submit summaries for the sessions! In the Leuven workshop, we focus on the applications of muon tomography, high energy physics, nuclear physics, astroparticle physics and neutrino physics in separate sessions, so that you will feel at home regardless of your specific area of ​​research. I have attached the workshop poster below, in the hopes that you will register and attend online or better yet come in person … There is no registration fee, and we can even take care of your trip!

Tommaso Dorigo (see his personal web page here) is an experimental particle physicist who works for the INFN and the University of Padua, and collaborates with the CMS experience at CERN LHC. He coordinates the Collaboration MODE, a group of physicists and computer scientists from eight institutions in Europe and the United States who aim to enable end-to-end optimization of detector design with differentiable programming. Dorigo is editor-in-chief of the journals Physics Reviews and Open Physics. In 2016, Dorigo published the book “Anomaly! The physics of colliders and the quest for new phenomena at Fermilab“, an insider’s view of the sociology of major particle physics experiments. You can get a copy of the book on Amazon, or contact them for a free pdf copy if you have limited financial means.


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