Our Partnership with the Simons Institute – A Promising Alignment of Research

Earlier this month we signed a three-year Industrial Partnership agreement with the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at the University of California, Berkeley. The signing event took place at the Calvin Lab, the dedicated building on the UC Berkeley campus that houses the Simons Institute. We believe this is a good fit and are excited about what lies ahead.

When we formally opened our doors at NTT Research in July, we knew that we wanted to keep those doors open — both to welcome visiting researchers to our three laboratories and also to encourage our own scientists to venture out and collaborate with like-minded colleagues wherever they were based. Given our strategic location here in Palo Alto, we knew that we wouldn’t always have to travel far to engage with other researchers.

As it happens, the Simons Institute is only about an hour’s drive away in Berkeley. Yet in other ways, we may be even closer. The Simons Institute is known as the world’s leading venue for collaborative research in theoretical computer science. As I noted, collaboration is built into our mission. In terms of research, our Cryptography and Information Security (CIS) Lab is focused on foundational research problems in cryptography and blockchain, and the Simons Institute promotes basic research on the foundations of computer science. Our leadership is also similar. CIS Lab Director Tatsuaki Okamoto has served as Guest Professor at several Japanese universities and holds numerous distinctions, including an RSA Conference Excellence in the Field of Mathematics Award in 2017. Simons Institute Director Shafi Goldwasser is a Turing Award Laureate and holds professorships at three eminent institutes of higher education.

This agreement aligns well with our open-door policy. First, it provides for our CIS Lab to join all Simons Institute events. Those include its research programs, which bring a mix of junior, senior and visiting researchers together for semester-long explorations of specific topics. There are also Industry Day recruitment and networking events and similar topical open days. At the same time, this partnership allows us to invite Simons program participants and fellows to one-day visits here at NTT Research. We also have the opportunity to embrace their support of the next generation of young scholars through the designation of three Simons Institute’s postdoctoral-level researchers as NTT Research Fellows.

By partnering with the Simons Institute, we find ourselves in good company. When it opened in 2012, the Simons Institute welcomed Google LLC and Microsoft Research as Founding Industrial Partners. VMWare became a Partner in 2018, and Amazon Web Services (AWS) is an Industrial Sponsor.  For our part, we expect that this engagement will lead to a number of joint projects, workshops, and technical papers. And as I said in the related press release, I predict the benefits of this partnership will extend far beyond our two institutions.