Emory System Ranks First in Live Question Answering Challenge
news Published Date: 2016-11-21
A question answering system, developed at Emory by a Ph.D. student Denis Savenkov, was ranked first in the LiveQA challenge, as announced at the 2016 Text Retrieval Conference (TREC 2016) on November 2016. The goal of the LiveQA challenge was to quickly answer questions posted by real users on a popular website, Yahoo Answers. This task pushes the limits of automatic question answering and information retrieval, as these questions express complex information needs that people chose to ask to a community, rather than turning to existing search engines. On top of it, the systems had to respond within a minute, bringing additional realism to the challenge. 26 systems from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia participated in the LiveQA challenge. The system responses were judged by the assessors from the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST), that co-organized the challenge together with Yahoo Labs and Emory University. An Emory system, developed by Denis Savenkov of the Emory IR Lab, was ranked 1st among all of the participants. Denis is advised by Prof. Eugene Agichtein, and is a Ph.D. student in the Emory Computer Science & Informatics program. The top-scoring Emory system, CRQA, uses many sources of information to automatically generate a set of candidate responses, and score them using state-of-the-art machine learning models. CRQA operates as a "cyborg", combining the best of human intuition with automatic responses, by using a novel real-time crowdsourcing module to obtain additional feedback from real human workers, while still returning answers quickly. The CRQA system was able to provide acceptable answers to more than 60% of the user questions, and perfectly answered over 22% of the questions, according to the quality judgments provided by professional NIST assessors. More details about the Emory system are published in a paper titled "CRQA: Crowd-powered Real-time Automated Question Answering System", by Denis Savenkov and Eugene Agichtein, in proceedings of the AAAI Human Computation conference (HCOMP 2016). Despite significant advances in automated question answering, the LiveQA challenge demonstrated that a large gap still remains between automatic question answering systems and good human answers, ~50% of which were judged to be excellent, compared to only 22% provided by the top-ranked Emory system. The LiveQA challenge will run again in 2017. More details about the challenge are available at
Students Attend Grace Hopper Conference
news Published Date: 2016-11-03

In October, twenty-one undergraduates and graduates represented The Department of Math and Computer Science at this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Houston, Texas. The gathering was attended by 15,000 people unified by their motivation to support diversity in STEM fields. Jamelia Mays, a junior at Emory majoring in Math and Computer Science: “The Grace Hopper Conference was an amazing experience. This year was my first time attending and I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of women in technology that surrounded me from the moment I walked into the door. I learned so much from other students and engineers that I wouldn't have learned anywhere else. I am so grateful to have an even bigger support system of strong, inspiring, successful women to reach out to.”

Learn more about the conference here.
IceCTF 2016 Security Competition
news Published Date: 2016-08-24
The Math&CS department is one of the sponsors of the IceCTF 2016 security competitions. It has become among the most popular online capture-the-flag contests in information security, with more than 2700 registered users solving a smorgasbord of 55+ cryptography, web vulnerabilities, reverse engineering, binary exploitation and other challenges. "This is a platform where anyone can pick up new security skills, tools and ideas, whether they are newcomers or advanced security professionals." says Prof. Vigfusson, one of the organizers of IceCTF. "It is truly exciting to see the competition grow every year, and many of the participants are telling us that they are having a great time." The competition runs from August 12-26 and is open for anyone at The scoreboard is here.
AIMS Laboratory Receives Best Paper Recognition
Published Date: 2016-06-29
A research paper by recent PhD graduate Xiaofeng Xu, advised by Professor Li Xiong and co-advised by Dr. Vaidy Sunderam, received the Best Paper Award at the 17th IEEE Mobile Data Management Conference in Porto, Portugal in June 2016. Dr. Xu is now at Facebook; Dr. Xiong directs Emory's Assured Information Management and Sharing (AIMS) laboratory. A preprint can be viewed here.
Vigfusson and Team win Best Student Paper Award
Published Date: 2016-06-14
An Emory project led by Dr. Ymir Vigfusson, including students Helgi Sigurbjarnarson, Petur Ragnarsson, and Juncheng Yang, in collaboration with Mahesh Balakrishnan (Yale) received the Best Student Paper Award at the ACM SYSTOR 2016 Conference in Haifa, Israel. Sigurbjarnarson is now at UDub and Ragnarsson at Reykjavik. The paper can be found here.
Congratulations Class of 2016!
news Published Date: 2016-05-12
The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science would like to congratulate our BA, BS, Minor, MS, and PhD students the best in their future endeavors! Our graduates were congratulated in the Commencement Magazine.
Emory Report: Li Xiong - Researching the human elements of cybersecurity
news Published Date: 2016-02-25
Dr. Li Xiong was recently featured in the Emory report. The article profiles Dr. Xiong and her research lab, Assured Information Management and Sharing (AIMS), focusing on cybersecurity issues. Read more about it here.
Georgia Scientific Computing Symposium
Published Date: 2016-02-18
The Georgia Scientific Computing Symposium (GSCS) is a forum for professors, postdocs, graduate students and other researchers in Georgia to meet in an informal setting, to exchange ideas, and to highlight local scientific computing research. The symposium has been held every year since 2009 and is open to the entire research community. This year, the symposium will be held on Saturday, February 20, 2016, at Emory University. The format of the day-long symposium is a set of invited presentations, poster sessions and a poster blitz, and plenty of time to network with other attendees.

Read more about it here.
Vigfusson receives NSF CAREER Award
news Published Date: 2015-12-03
Ymir Vigfusson, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, has received the department's first ever NSF CAREER grant for his project "SentientCache: Rethinking the Cache Abstraction". The CAREER program offers the National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research. Vigfusson's work focuses on improving the performance and cost-effectiveness of large-scale distributed systems by automatically learning what data should be memorized; a description is at
US News interviews David Borthwick about MathCS graduate programs
Published Date: 2015-11-02
Dr. David Borthwick interviewed by US News.

Read more about it here.