#TCOA (The Coordination Of Affairs, November 04, 2017):

Are more than a third of you crooks; could you arrive at a consensus? When do we need to work together? Can introducing uncertainty (or randomness?) get rid of certain equilibria? Is coordination necessary for resource access by multiple agents? Is building synchronous hardware difficult? Is it even possible to say whether motor proteins are coordinating? Are systems with heterogeneous agents more likely to coordinate; & when? Can you move your lips; how? Can all problems be decoupled into ‘n’ pieces? Do process ‘geometries’ and communication systems matter? How does the central bank help firms coordinate? When is central planning essential? How is the brain different from the central bank? Is more information always better? Is being precise good? Can plasticity be built? How do proteins decide which ‘track’ to choose? How do (non-intelligent?) machines coordinate? Is the dynein of the yeast better than ours? Does the ‘size’ of payoffs determine whether coordination happens? Might we be able to think of coordination as a ‘field phenomena’ using the physical notions of order parameter, thresholds, and phase transition? SynTalk thinks about these & more questions using concepts from computer science (Prof. K. Narayan Kumar, Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI), Chennai), biology (Prof. Roop Mallik, TIFR, Mumbai), & economics and game theory (Prof. Debasis Mishra, ISI, New Delhi).

Listen in…

SynTalk is pleased and privileged to have hosted the following SynTalkrs (in alphabetical order) on its #TCOA show.

Prof. K. Narayan Kumar (computer science) is currently a Professor of Computer Science at the Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI), Chennai. He completed his undergraduate studies from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani & then went to complete his Ph.D. from the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. His research interests are in the use of automata theory in the study of concurrent systems, particularly the automata models for distributed systems. He studies problems related to verification and synthesis of such systems. He is also interested in the aspects of mathematical logic related to computer science. As part of his research he has also studied technques for the formal verification of concurrent recursive programs, models for concurrency with timing constraints and in the use of graph decompositions in verification. He has been the coach at the training camp for preparing the Indian teams for the International Informatics Olympiad since 2003 and is the Deputy Leader of the Indian team. He was also the Co-Chair, Programme Committee for the 15th International Symposium on Automated Technology for Verification and Analysis (ATVA’17, Pune, October 2017) & Programme Committee for the 29th International Conference on the Foundations of Software Technology and Theoretical Computer Science (IIT Kanpur, 2009) and serves on the Steering Committee of the International Conference on the Foundations of Software Technology and Theoretical Computer Science.

Prof. Roop Mallik (biology) is a Professor of Biology & the Principal Investigator at Mallik Lab, Department of Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai. He is a physicist by training, who moved to Biology after a brief stint in Chemistry.  He did his Masters in Physics from University of Allahabad & then went to complete his Ph.D. at the Department of Condensed Matter Physics, TIFR, Mumbai. His research interests are ‘motor proteins’ – which are nanoscale machines that power much of biological motion. He is interested in understanding how these nano-machines team up to work cooperatively inside the cells of our body. This cooperation is necessary to (say) kill pathogens, and also to control secretion of fat from the liver. Some questions that he focusses on are: how do differently designed molecular motors work together on a single cargo, what is the advantage of this heterogeneity, what are the specific adaptations that allow a particular motor to work with another class of motors and do something useful in the cell, & how is the relative activity of antagonistic motors regulated to achieve directed transport. As part of his post doctoral work (2000-2001), he had worked with Prof. J.B. Udgaonkar at NCBS, Bangalore where he developed the rapid laser-induced pH jump techniques to study protein dynamics of green fluorescent protein (GFP). He then continued (2001-2005) his post-doctoral work with Prof. Steven Gross at the University of California Irvine (UCI), USA, where he conducted in vitro studies of cytoplasmic Dynein and Kinesin. Prof. Mallik has published extensively in journals such as Nature, Current Biology, Physica B : Condensed Matter, & Biophysical Journal. He was an awarded an International Senior Research Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust (UK) for 2006 – 2012 & is currently Senior fellow with the Wellcome-DBT India Alliance. He also received the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in Biological Sciences (2014).

Prof. Debasis Mishra (economics, game theory) is a Professor of Economics at the Indian Statistical Institute (ISI), New Delhi. He holds a Ph.D. & M.S. in Industrial Engineering from University of Wisconsin, Madison (USA) and a B.Tech. in Industrial Engineering and Management from IIT, Kharagpur. His research focus is on game theory, auction design, mechanism design, and economic theory in general. Prior to joining ISI, he has been a visiting scientist at Department of Computer Science and Automation, IISc, Bangalore, & has also done his post-doctoral work at the Center for Operations Research and Econometric (CORE), Universit́é Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium. He currently teaches graduate courses on game theory, auction theory, optimization, and microeconomics. He has worked on design of efficient combinatorial auctions, and is particularly interested in designing auctions for selling multiple objects simultaneously where bidders have straightforward bidding strategies in equilibrium (i.e., bidders do not have to worry about manipulating bidding). Currently he is working on auction design when bidders are behavioral, i.e., do not necessarily behave as rational agents. His research asks the question whether current auction designs are robust to manipulations by such behavioral agents. Prof. Mishra has published in numerous journals, such as Game and Economic Behavior, Social Choice and Welfare, & International Journal of Game Theory. He is the Associate Editor of Mathematical Social Science, Social Choice and Welfare, & Journal of Mechanism and Institution Design. As part of ISI, Prof. Mishra has been the Associate Dean (2012-2016), Chair, admission committee for doctoral program in economics (2009) & masters program in quantitative economics (2013). He has delivered talks at several international institutes/universities, such as Maastricht University (Netherlands), Lund University (Sweden), University of Bonn (Germany), & University of Tokyo (Japan).

Note: Any & all errors in the brief profiles above are SynTalk’s own.

#TCOA mentionsAlan Turing, Edsger W. Dijkstra, Wieslaw Zielonka, Lamport-Shostak-Pease, Madhavan Mukund, & Milind Sohoni, among others.