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Boston Computation Club

Boston Computation Club

By Max von Hippel
The Boston Computation Club is a small seminar group focused on mathematical computer science, and computational mathematics. Its name is plagiarized from the London Computation Club. Boston Computation Club meetings occur roughly every other week, on weekends, around 5pm EDT (modulo speaker availability). The usual format is a 20m presentation followed by 40m of discussion. Some, but not all, meetings are posted on YouTube and in podcast form.
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06/13/21: Modeling Content and Context with Deep Relational Learning with Maria Leonor Pacheco

Boston Computation Club

01/08/22: Covert C2 Channels with Kai Bernardini
Kai Bernardini is a professional hacker/security researcher, a mathematician, and and a lecturer in computer science at Boston University.  He's also better than me at lead belay (no short-roping from Kai!).  Today Kai joined us to discuss covert command and control (C2) channels.  Sure, your communication might be indistinguishable from random noise.  But is it indistinguishable from r/dankmemes?  If not, prepare to get caught by the local sysadmin.  Kai on Github Kai on Twitter This talk on YouTube
January 09, 2022
12/04/21: Feynman Integrals for a Mathematical Audience with Matthew von Hippel
Matt von Hippel is (a) my cousin and (b) a professor at the Niels Bohr International Academy in Copenhagen, Denmark, where he researches scattering amplitudes in gauge and gravity theories.  Matt received his PhD in 2014 from SUNY Stony Brook, and from 2014 to 2017 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Perimeter Institute.  Today Matt joined us to discuss Feynman integrals.  Apparently "Feynman integral" means different things to different people; the kind discussed here are those associated with "Feynman diagrams".  The talk was engaging and fun, and at the end Matt fielded mathematical questions from the audience, which included both usual BCC members and some NEU mathematics faculty.  This was a fun one and I encourage you to watch it, if you didn't make the live event!  Matt's personal page at the NBIA is HERE.   Matt's popular physics blog is HERE.  Matt can be found on Twitter HERE. This talk can be found in video form HERE. You can learn more about the Boston Computation Club HERE.
December 04, 2021
12/03/21: Aesthetic and Organic Complexity with Tyler Hobbs & Bill Cresco, moderated by Anya & Joe
Tyler Hobbs is a generative artist from Austin, Texas.  Bill Cresco is a geneticist who specializes in quantitative evolutionary genomics at the University of Oregon.  Today Tyler and Bill joined us for a wide-ranging discussion, seeded by the topic of "complexity".  The conversation was fascilitated by our two excellent moderators, Anya and Joe.  Anya studied studio art and environmental studies at Wellesley College and now works at Reed Hilderbrand, and Joe studied bioengineering at MIT and now works at Ginko Bioworks.  The conversation was wide-ranging and compelling, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!   Learn more about Tyler Hobbs HERE. Learn more about Bill Cresco and his lab HERE. Learn more about the Boston Computation Club HERE. Learn more about Anya HERE. Learn more about Joe: Just kidding, you can't, he is an internet ninja. Watch the video version of this talk HERE.
December 04, 2021
10/24/21: An Extensible and Modular Design and Implementation of Monte Carlo Tree Search for the JVM with Larkin Liu & Jun Tao Luo
Larkin Liu is an operations research (OR) & machine learning (ML) specialist, currently completing a PhD in Operations Research under the advisement of Stefan Minner at the Technical University of Munich.  Today Larkin joined us to present *An Extensible and Modular Design and Implementation of Monte Carlo Tree Search for the JVM*, a recent preprint he authored with Jun Tao Luo (MS student in CS at Carnegie Mellon; also in attendance at this talk).  The paper is exactly what it sounds like, and the presentation was a lot of fun, with clear mathematical background, a solid foundation in software engineering principles, and some impressive code demos.     - Preprint:  - Larkin:  - Jun: - Video:
October 24, 2021
10/15/21: Mathematical Programming Modulo Strings with Ankit Kumar
Ankit Kumar is a PhD student in the Khoury College of Computer Science at Northeastern University, advised by Pete Manolios.  He is from Dhanbad, Jharkand, in India, and prior to joining Northeastern, he earned his MTech in Computer Science and Engineering from IIT Kanpur and his BTech in Electrical Engineering from IIT (BHU) Varanasi.  Now, Ankit's research focuses on formal methods (FM) -- particularly in ACL2Sedan -- and the use of FM to study programming languages, including writing machine-checkable proofs to prove properties.  Today Ankit joined us to present Mathematical Programming Modulo Strings, his recent FMCAD21 paper.  This presentation can be viewed as an "extended" version of the 10-minute presentation he gave at that conference.   - Ankit Kumar: - FMCAD21: - Pete Manolios: - The Boston Computation Club: - Video form of this talk:
October 15, 2021
10/09/21: Types in PL Research vs Types in Julia with Julia Belyakova
Julia Belyakova is a PhD student in computer science at Northeastern University, where she is currently focused on formalizing the Julia programming language.  Julia's primary primary research interests are programming languages and type theory, although she also enjoys theorem proving, generic programming, functional and object-oriented programming, software engineering, programming by contracts, software testing, and as of late, human aspects of software engineering and the interaction between humans and programming languages.  In short: Julia is quite the polymath.  Today she joined us to discuss the Julia Language's type system, in contrast to type systems in other languages, and in programming language research papers.  This was a really fun talk and also a very accessible entry-point to the topic for those without a strong PL background.  We hope you enjoy!   - Julia Belyakova's homepage: - The Julia language: - The Boston Computation Club: - This talk but as a video:
October 10, 2021
09/12/21: More Category Theory for More Cybernetics with Matteo Capucci
Matteo Capucci is a PhD student at the University of Strathclyde in the MSP group, advised by Neil Ghani and Scott Cunningham.  He studies Applied Category Theory (aka ACT), specifically Categorical Cybernetics and Applied Topos Theory.  Today Matteo joined us to discuss the foundations of Categorical Cybernetics, in a wide-ranging conversation touching on lenses, feedback systems, dynamical systems, and more.  The conversation extended these ideas to distributed systems, model checking, cyber-physical systems, program sketching, and quantum systems, among other things.  This one was an absolute blast live and we hope you enjoy it after the fact in its audio form.   You can read more about Matteo HERE.  You can read more about the Boston Computation Club HERE. You can watch this presentation in video form on YouTube HERE.
September 12, 2021
08/28/21: Compilation Techniques for Reconfigurable Analog Devices with Sara Archour
Sara Archour recently completed a PhD at MIT/CSAIL in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence, and is joining Stanford University (EE) as an Associate Professor. Sara studies analog computers - how to build them; how to use them; what they're good for; how to stick them together to do interesting things; and so forth. Today, Sara joined us to discuss these things, with a smidgeon of career advice at the end :) Sara Archour's homepage can be found HERE. This presentation can also be viewed in video format HERE.
August 28, 2021
07/30/21: Structural Attacks on Local Routing in Payment Channel Networks with Ben Weintraub
Ben Weintraub is a PhD student in computer science at Northeastern University, advised by Cristina Nita-Rotaru.  Today he joined us to present his paper *Structural Attacks on Local Routing in Payment Channel Networks*, which was accepted to the 2021 Euro S&P Blockchain workshop.  This is a fascinating paper studying a startlingly powerful attack strategy against payment channel networks.  We really enjoyed Ben's presentation and the subsequent discussion, which involved PhD students in computer science and economics, in addition to professional engineers and mathematicians.  You can learn more about Ben and his work here: This talk is also available on YouTube HERE.
July 30, 2021
07/24/21: Linear Haskell with Artem Pelenitsyn
Artem is a PhD student in computer science at Northeastern University, advised by Professor Jan Vitek.  Prior to joining the Khoury PhD program, Artem worked as an Assistant Professor at Southern Federal University in Russia, where he earned his MSc and BSc.  Today Artem joined us to present about linear Haskell, a version of / feature-set for Haskell allowing "linear" types.  Artem explained linearity, why it might be useful, and why adding linear types to an existing (non-linear) language can be difficult - with Haskell as a case study. You can watch a video version of Artem's talk [HERE]. You can learn more about Artem [HERE].
July 24, 2021
07/10/21: The Illogical Nature of Chemical Nomenclature [Biology Café #1]
"Café Events" are small, informal events where we discuss our research and our (perhaps, unfulfilled) research interests.  Our ongoing "Biology Café" series is exactly that, but focused on topics at the intersection of biology and computation.  Today's presentation by Sophia von Hippel covered the open, and very important, problem of developing a mathematical language for chemistry.  Chemistry has a great diagrammatic syntax, but a (or, multiple) terrible prose representation.  Sophia presents the problem in clear and careful detail with examples, and then we discuss.  TL;DR: we don't solve the problem.  Sophia is currently pursuing a BS in Chemistry at the University of Arizona (with Honors).  She previously interned with NASA and served as a COVID-19 vaccinator.  She is also an Emergency Medical Technician with the University of Arizona Emergency Medical Services (UAEMS).  You can also view this presentation as a video on YouTube [HERE].
July 10, 2021
06/13/21: Modeling Content and Context with Deep Relational Learning with Maria Leonor Pacheco
Maria is a PhD student in Computer Science at Purdue University, where she works with Dr. Dan Goldwasser on neural-symbolic methods to model natural language discourse, among other things.  Today she presented her recent project DRaiL, "an open-source declarative framework for specifying deep relational models, designed to support a variety of NLP scenarios."   [ Paper ] [ Maria ][ Code ][ Video ][ Boston Computation Club ]
June 13, 2021
05/29/21: Homotopy Type Theory 101 with Carlo Angiuli
Carlo is a postdoc in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University, where he received a Ph.D. under Robert Harper. He previously studied at Indiana University Bloomington, where he received a B.S. in Mathematics and in Computer Science.  Today Carlo joined us to discuss Homotopy Type Theory, a new foundations for mathematics based on a recently-discovered connection between Homotopy Theory and Type Theory.  Carlo explains intuitively what Homotopy Type Theory is and how it is used, and then goes over various possible implementations of Homotopy Type Theory in a theorem-proving environment such as Coq.  Finally, he fields questions on Homotopy Type Theory, theorem-proving, and other topics from the Boston Computation Club audience. The Boston Computation Club can be found at Carlo Angiuli can be found at A video recording of this talk is available at For more on Homotopy Type Theory refer to
June 09, 2021