CSGS Seminar – Models and algorithms to optimize submodular functions

Date: 30th March (Thursday)

Time: 12:30 pm 

Location: 3120 Trottier.

Speaker: Richard

Title: Models and algorithms to optimize submodular functions.

About Speaker: 

Richard is a second year PhD student in the School of Computer Science at McGill University. He holds a Master’s degree in Mathematics and Statistics from McGill and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Universidad Autonoma de Madrid in Madrid, Spain. His main research interests are in Discrete Optimization, and in particular in the areas of Approximation Algorithms and Submodular Optimization.
Summary : 
Areas of Applied Math / Discrete Math / Theoretical Computer Science in optimization and especially models and algorithms for optimizing submodular functions, including their application to real world settings. Submodular functions appear naturally in many important optimization frameworks including graphs/networks, facility location problems, combinatorial auctions, analysis of social networks, feature selection, information gathering, sensor placement, document summarization and more. There has been a huge amount of work in the past years regarding the design of efficient algorithms to optimize (both maximize and minimize) these kind of functions subject to several kind of constraints. 

It’s your turn to give ideas for events!

We will receive this year’s budget in short time, so we are pondering over the events that can be organized this year. We really welcome CS grads’ input on avenues of spending this year’s budget. It’s your change to give us event ideas and other suggestions about spending the budget!


Please email us about your great and fantastic ideas at

csgs-execs AT cs.mcgill.ca


We are looking for seminar speakers!

Here is the opportunity for the great research minds to give talk about their research!

If you are interested in giving a talk about your research, please email us at

csgs-execs AT cs.mcgill.ca

I am glad to inform you that you will be awarded a free Hoodie – Computer Science McGill when you give a talk, so are you ready ?

Your chance to get involved!

Here is your opportunity to get involved in executive team.

We are looking for VP Social and Chair! 

CSGS VP Social


a) Plan and execute social events and activities
b) Ensure that social events follow all applicable rules and laws c) Ensure all events are advertised to the Membership

(if interested email: csgs-execs AT cs.mcgill.ca)

CSGS Chair

Responsibilities :
a) Be the designated correspondent of the Association to the Membership including: i) notification of all of the Association’s meetings/assemblies; and ii) distribution of meeting materials (e.g. agendas).
b) Act as Recording Secretary for Council Meetings and General Assemblies;
c) Maintain and organize up to date electronic (where appropriate) and paper (where appropriate) records of all of the Association’s documents including: i) financial records as provided by the VP Finance and Operations; i) Meeting records (agendas, minutes, etc…); ii) Documentation arising from the activities of the Executive; iii) Template and filled forms (e.g. Nomination Forms); iiii) The Association’s operations manual.

(if interested email: csgs-execs AT cs.mcgill.ca)

CSGS Minutes of Meeting – 24th Feb,2017

Below are some key points discussed in CSGS meeting held on 24th Feb,2017.

Motion: out of the next CSGS budget, a minimum of $1000 shall be allocated for seminars, and a minimum of $1000 for 2 major social events. Prospectively, the two social events are (1) BBQ or CSUS-joint event early summer, and (2) BBQ in September.

Votes: unanimously passed.


Motion: VP Communication shall solicit input from CS grads if they any ideas for events and/or other avenues that CSGS can allocate budget for.

Votes: unanimously endorsed


Motion: VP Communication and VP Finance commit to updating the online Financial Statement with the latest budget spending no later than March 1st 2017.

Votes: unanimously endorsed


Motion: CSGS Chair is relieved of his post effective February 24th 2017.

Votes: unanimously passed


Motion: CSGS shall call for candidates to fill the vacant VP Social post. The President is tasked with soliciting candidacy and arranging with PGSS to setup the voting system.

Votes: unanimously passed


Motion: VP Academics commit to organizing a minimum of 5 seminars from February 2017 to November 2017.

Votes: unanimously endorsed


Motion: Whereas interaction between CS ungrads and grads can foster positive social and academic interaction, and give CSUS’s reachout to organize joint events with CSGS, the CS undergrads are invited to CSGS-organized seminars, with the understanding that CSUS will cover (1) 50% of the catering cost and handle (2) handle room bookings.

Votes: unanimously passed

CSGS invites speakers from the industry

CSGS was delighted to host George Bryson (CSTE, CBAP, ITIL, PSM, BSAC;  Senior Business Analyst and co-founder, MontGuide Inc. and VP – IIBA Chapter Montreal), and Betty Graff-Chechin (Betty Graff-Chechin (CBAP, LSS, ITIL) Senior Business Analyst at the National Bank of Canada and member of Secretary – IIBA Montreal Chapter).

Thanks to our VP Academics Rohit Verma for organizing this speaking event!



CS grads support CSGS Space Initiative

CSGS is working on an initiative aimed at providing an exclusive space for CS grads (master, PhD and postdoc students) to meet up, socialize relax and maybe some a bit of reading too! There is shortage of space McGill-wide, but CSGS is trying to work with the department to secure this exclusive space and do everything possible to make that happen.

A majority of CS grads want this space to be used for both entertainment and academic use, which highlights the need for both. Below is a summary of stats of responses:

69% want the space to be utilized for both academic and entertainment purposes
25% want to be exclusively entertainment space (foosball, table tennis, dart board, comfy couches etc)
2% want it to a quite study space only.

56% of respondents were master student,
44% were PhD.

CSGS will continue to work with the department to secure this space, we hope that will happen soon, we’ll keep you posted!

Here is a scan of the responses:


Seminar on Quantum annealing: from D-wave to optimization Hamiltonians

We were excited to host  Alessandro Ricottone, PhD Candidate at McGill Physics working on theoretical condensed matter, to deliver a seminar at SOCS.

Talk abstract: Quantum annealers are a class of (non-universal) quantum computers devised to quickly find the minimum of a function by exploiting the quantum tunneling and entanglement. Recently D-wave started commercialize their quantum annealers. Describing the D-wave machine and showing how we can use it to find the solution to some famous mathematical optimization problems.

Thanks Alessandro!

Seminar : In silico molecular evolution and Boltzmann sampling: implications in origin of life and molecular design

Thanks to all CSGS grads for great support at our first seminar of this fall.

Seminar by Carlos Oliver

Seminar by Carlos Oliver


Speaker: Carlos G. Oliver
Title: In silico molecular evolution and Boltzmann sampling: implications in origin of life and molecular design.

Abstract: RNA is a class of molecules present in all living organisms that counts on two important properties: information storage and catalytic activity. This duality makes RNA an interesting molecule to study as potentially the first molecule to support life, as well as a key component of many cellular processes. One of the most important factors in determining RNA function is the shape, or structure that the molecule adopts. This shape is determined by a specific set of interactions encoded in the RNA sequence that give rise to a 2D and 3D shape.  To this end, RNA structure prediction algorithms have made substantial progress, and serve as a notable example of computer science being applied to answer fundamental biological questions. While the algorithmics of mapping a sequence to a structure are well established, there still remain many questions about how the composition and exploration of sequence space affects this mapping. In this work, we use structure prediction algorithms, combined with Boltzmann sampling, and evolutionary algorithms to study the energy landscapes of RNA populations under various sequence-space constraints. We show that restricting sequence space has a strong influence on the stability of structure-sequence pairs, the emergence of structural complexity, and the evolutionary dynamics of populations. All of these insights can be used to further our understanding of how sequence-structure space affects the diversity of molecules we observe today, as well as provides useful tools for controlling molecular function.