Ep21 Jelani Nelson

In this episode of ACM ByteCast, our special guest host Scott Hanselman (of The Hanselminutes Podcast) welcomes Jelani Nelson, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of the Theory Group at the University of California, Berkeley and a Research Scientist at Google. His areas of interest include the theory of computation, as well as the design and analysis of algorithms, especially for massive datasets. Jelani is a member of ACM's Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory (SIGACT)’s Committee for the Advancement of Theoretical Computer Science (CATCS). Among his honors, he won the 2014 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He is the creator of AddisCoder, a computer science summer program for Ethiopian high school students in Addis Ababa.

Jelani and Scott discuss his journey from learning HTML when he was 12 to becoming a theoretical computer scientist. They talk about the spectrum between software engineering and theory and how even theoretical CS research can have an impact on industry practice; teaching his Introduction to Algorithms course of more than 700 students; running a highly successful algorithmic boot camp for students in Ethiopia to learn coding; and the times he feels most accomplished in his work.

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