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John Marburger III Fellowship for Science, Engineering and Mathematics

Shikha Singh, Computer Science

Shikha Singh Dissertation Title: Outsourcing Storage and Computation to Tackle Challenges Posed by Big Data

Can you tell us, in general terms, about your research?

With the emergence of big data, it has become increasingly difficult for computers to locally store or compute massive data. Most computation on big data is either outsourced to external service providers or is performed locally while the data itself is stored on external devices.

The main challenge when outsourcing computation to external service providers is: how do we ensure that the external servers report the result of the computation correctly?

On the other hand, when performing computation locally on data stored in external storage, we are not relying on external servers for the result but in this case the main challenge is: how do we minimize the computation cost as it involves transferring relevant data back-and-forth from external storage to local memory?

My research focuses on designing efficient algorithms to deal with these two challenges posed by big data.

What excites you about your work?

The most exciting part about my work is using mathematics to solve real problems and to design algorithms that make computers run faster.

It gives a great deal of satisfaction to see an algorithm or system we design actually put to practice, working as expected, and generating results that were hitherto impossible. Similarly, it is exciting to take a heuristic that is conjectured to be fast and prove (mathematically) that it is indeed theoretically optimal!

There is so much we don't understand about the increasingly computational world we live in. It is exciting to explore these gaps, create something new and add even a tiny bit to the sum total of human knowledge.

How has your time at Stony Brook helped equip your for success?

Since I joined Stony Brook University as a PhD student four years ago, I have learned and grown so much as a student, a researcher, and a teacher.

The rigorous and comprehensive coursework that is part of the PhD qualifying process in the computer science department prepared me for the wide variety of challenges that come up in research. Regular seminars and reading groups in my areas of interest helped me build up my presentation and group problem solving skills. I also got numerous opportunities to teach at Stony Brook which have not only helped me become a better teacher, but have improved my communication skills that are such an important part of a being successful scholar.

Furthermore, at Stony Brook I was able to go beyond academics by leading student groups like Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWiSE) and becoming part of the greater student community.

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