CIS 2021 Highlights

© 2021

© 2021

The EPFL’s Center for Intelligent Systems (CIS) is an EPFL Research Center that brings together experts in machine learning, data science, computer vision, cyber-physical systems, and robotics. Prof. Pierre Vandergheynst serves as its Academic Director, Dr. Jan Kerschgens serves as the Executive Director of the center. A group of 18 professors serves as delegates for all 5 EPFL schools within the CIS Scentific Committee. More than 70 associated labs have core activities within the fields of AI, ML, CV, robotics and many more research groups from all five schools of EPFL are using AI approaches for science. Here is a selection of highlights of what happend at the CIS in 2021.

A growing team

With EPFL's restructuring at the start of 2021, the CIS dynamically adjusted its structure as well. On the recommendation of Prof. Anna Fontcuberta I Morral, Associate Vice President for Centers and Platforms, Prof. Jan S. Hesthaven agreed to appoint Prof. Pierre Vandergheynst as Academic Director of CIS for a four-year term. Dr. Jan Kerschgens continues to serve as the center’s Executive Director.

In March 2021 the CIS was delighted to announce that the School of Life Sciences (SV) joined the School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering (ENAC), Engineering (STI), Computer and Communication Sciences (IC) and Basic Sciences (SB) within the CIS. As a result, the center welcomed Prof. Andrew Charles Oates, Dean of the SV School, to its Board of Directors, as well as Prof. Patrick Barth, Prof. Anne-Florence Bitbol, and Prof. Pavan P. Ramdya as its Scientific Committee delegates. Further additons to the CIS Scientific Committee in 2021 have been Prof. Amir Zamir, Tenure Track Assistant Professor (IC), and Prof. Lenka Zdeborova, Associate Professor.

In addition, the CIS welcomed Prof. Paul Joseph Dyson, who succeeded Prof. Jan S. Hesthaven as Dean of the SB School, and Prof. Rüdiger Urbanke, who succeeded Prof. James Larus as Dean of the IC School to its Board of Directors.

Collaborative research and new initiative

In 2021, the CIS implemented a number of new core initiatives to help it fulfill its mission. Dr. Jan Kerschgens oversaw the launch of the "Get to Know Your Industry Partner" seminar series in November 2021, following the success of the "Get to Know Your Neighbor" seminar series since April 2020. Through the "Get to Know Your Industry Partner" seminar series, CIS seeks to stimulate exchange between corporations, start-ups and academic groups working in the field of Intelligent Systems. Dr. Laurent Daudet, CTO and co-founder of LightOn, and Jean-Michel Chardon, Head of AI at Logitech, were among the first speakers.

In October, the EPFL CIS – RIKEN AIP Seminar Series was launched in order to further promote the exchange between the two institutions EPFL and RIKEN within the fields of Intelligent Systems. The theory and application of AI are discussed in this monthly online seminar series. More than 40 research teams are housed at the RIKEN Center for Advanced Intelligence Project (AIP), with topics including fundamentals of machine learning and optimization, applications in medicine, materials, and disasters, and the ethics of artificial intelligence.

Finally, CIS' most recent initiative isEPFL AI4Science. Recent advances in machine learning have had a significant impact on computational sciences in the last ten years, providing access to brand new approaches to simulate and exploit complicated models. This new PostDoc fellowship program aims to bridge the gap between Machine Learning and its applications in science. The Fellowship emphasizes excellence and interdisciplinarity; selected fellows will be attached to two labs, will work with a number of EPFL laboratories and have ample freedom in developing their own research plan.

2021 a time to meet and reconnect

On-campus events gradually became possible again after the EPFL summer semester break.

TheCIS Digital Twin Days, the center's biggest event of the year, took place in November.

On a global scale, digital twin technologies are gaining traction in research and applications in health and industry. EPFL and its partners are working on relevant core technologies and integrations, for example through its CIS Research Pillars andDIGIPREDICT.

This one-of-a-kind two-day event gave a perfect opportunity to meet with members of the EPFL CIS Digital Twin community as well as renowned international experts from academia, industry, and politics. In total, seven talks took place over the two days. Additionally, the event included time for networking, the display of selected posters, and a roundtable discussion.

While the much-anticipated Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) was held entirely remotely owing to the pandemic, the CIS decided to host a local mid-scale event: the EPFL CIS NeurIPS 2021 Mirror Event, at the SwissTech Convention Center.

All EPFL students and researchers with accepted papers at NeurIPS 2021 were given the opportunity to present their work in person during this one-day conference. EPFL researchers and students had over 60 papers accepted for presentation at the conference in 2021, more than any other continental European institution. Over 150 people attended the event, which was initiated and organized in partnership with Prof. Nicolas Flammarion, Prof. Florent Krzakala, and Prof. Lenka Zdeborova.

A confirmed continued interest

In 2021, the CIS also successfully pursued its own series of talks, theCIS Colloquia, drawing over 850 participants. This seminar series brings together professors and researchers from EPFL and around the world who focus on various aspects of Intelligent Systems to discuss the current state of the art. Prof. Michael Bronstein (Imperial College London), Prof. Weinan E (Princeton University), Prof. Susan Murphy (Harvard), and many others were among those who spoke at the CIS last year.

More than 400 members of the EPFL community attended the CIS Get to Know Your Neighbors seminar series. Each session allows an EPFL professor to present an overview of their current research and engage in discussion with the EPFL community.

In 2022, the CIS is looking forward to further bridge the boundaries of EPFL’s schools and the creation of plenty additional opportunities for its EPFL community and external stakeholders.