Jacques Neveu Prize
Sébastien Bubeck, winner of the Jacques Neveu Prize
After being designated runner-up for the Gilles Kahn Prize, Sébastien Bubeck has been awarded the Jacques Neveu Prize for his PhD dissertation Bandits Games and Clustering Foundations (jointly supervised by Rémi Munos from the Sequel Inria research team and Cristina Butucea, a professor at Paul Painlevé Laboratory at the University of Lille 1).
This prize is awarded to a thesis in probability or statistics.
What is the specific nature of the Jacques Neveu Prize?
Sébastien Bubeck: This prize is awarded to a thesis in probability or statistics. However, my thesis is situated at the crossroads of theoretical computer science and statistics. The Gilles Kahn Prize recognised the “IT” dimension of my thesis, while the Jacques Neveu Prize recognises the "theoretical statistics" aspect of my work (and perhaps the fact that I apply modern tools in probability theory in the field of computer science).
What do these prizes mean to you?
Sébastien Bubeck: These prizes mean that I am recognised by my fellow computer scientists. I am a mathematician and, in studying for my PhD at Inria, I had a mathematician's view of an area which is at the boundary between theoretical computer science, mathematics and statistics. I enjoy being at this crossroads, finding algorithms that need to be implemented on a computer, applied to the real world. The key point to the bandit game is modelling all situations where a compromise has to be found between taking new decisions and making use of decisions known to be right. For example, in a call centre, what is the first question the agent should ask? What is the first suggestion he should make to the customer he has on the line? Our research is providing genuine solutions to these problems.
What are your plans now?
Sébastien Bubeck: As of September I will be trying to start my own research team at Princeton. I intend to work with a group of PhD students and develop the most promising aspects of bandit theory. In general, I hope to remain in the academic world for some time now!
The second part of Sébastien Bubeck's PhD is devoted to the problem of looking for groups, or clustering, in a set of data. By defining new data categorisation methods, Sébastien Bubeck's work offers a new theoretical viewpoint on how clustering algorithms are analysed.
Keywords: Inria Lille - Nord Europe Research CentreSebastien BubeckJacques Neveu Prize
About Sebastien Bubeck
Bandit games, based on the principle of action-reward, were developed in the 1950s. They model many concrete problems in applied mathematics, such as repeated decision-making in uncertain environments. Bandit algorithms are used in random phenomena that are not fully understood, such as the positioning of advertising banners on web pages. Which advertisement will attract the user's attention first? What would have happened if the visitor had been shown a different advertisement? These are the kind of questions that bandit game algorithms try to answer. This application has been used by companies such as Google since 2000. Bandit games will allow the development of other applications that are not yet available, such as intelligent stock management, efficient searches for radio frequencies or frequencies for conversations between mobile telephones.
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