University issues statement on earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria
A message from Dr. Ian Rowlands, Associate Vice-President, International.
On behalf of the University of Waterloo community, I would like to express my concern and condolences to the families and communities throughout Türkiye and Syria devastated by Monday's earthquakes.
In particular, my thoughts go out to members of our campus community who have family and friends in the affected areas. Waiting for word from your loved ones when you are so far away is lonely and so difficult.
Students, staff and faculty who are experiencing any distress or difficulty as a result of Monday's earthquakes are encouraged to access the various support services listed below.
Dr. Ian Rowlands
Associate Vice-President, International
- Counselling Services - 519-888-4567;32655
- UW MATES (Mentor Assistance Through Education and Support)
- Here 24/7 - 1-844-437-3247
- Health Services - Student Medical Clinic - 519-888-4096
- Grand River Hospital - 519-749-4300
- St. Mary's Hospital - 519-744-3311
- Good2Talk - 1-866-925-5454
- Crisis Services Canada - 1-833-456-4566 or by text 45645
- Homewood Health (Employee and Family Assistance Provider) - 1-800-663-1142
Dr. Goldi Gill named Executive Director, Campus Wellness
A message from Chris Read, Associate Provost, Students.
I am delighted to announce that Dr. Goldi Gill has been named Executive Director, Campus Wellness after an extensive search and interview process. Goldi holds a Bachelor of Communications from Royal Roads, a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University as well as a Pd.D. in Business Psychology from the Chicago School of Psychology.
Goldi’s most recent position, since 2018, has been Executive Director at a pan-national not-for-profit organization, The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society. Goldi is also a part-time Professor at Fanshawe and Canadore College teaching courses in Business Processes and Human Resource Management.
Outside of work, Goldi mentors young BIPOC students from various Ontario high schools and colleges, contributing to educational inclusion and empowerment. Additionally, Goldi shares her talents with the Elizabeth Fry Society and Families Canada as their current Board Director.
Apart from Goldi’s excellent background and qualifications, her strength in strategic business planning and collaborative leadership shine. With a strong background in running national organizations with a wide variety of stakeholders, Goldi has proven track record of evolving culture and generating support for continuous improvement. She also has a demonstrated compassion for students and their well-being, and a long-standing connection to higher education.
We look forward to Goldi assuming her responsibilities full-time on April 17.
I would like to express my gratitude to the team of students and employees who worked so diligently and thoughtfully throughout the multi-staged hiring process. And, as always, I am grateful for all of Campus Wellness staff for continuing to provide exceptional care to our student body.
February Anti-Racism Reads: I'm Still Here
A message from the Library and Print + Retail Solutions.
We are pleased to announce that Jermal Jones, Associate Director, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access, will facilitate the February edition of Anti-Racism Reads. He will be discussing I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. Penguin Random House Canada describes this book as follows: "In a time when nearly every institution (schools, churches, universities, businesses) claims to value diversity in its mission statement, Austin writes in breathtaking detail about her journey to self-worth and the pitfalls that kill our attempts at racial justice.
This event is scheduled for Tuesday, February 28 from noon until 1:00 p.m. and will be held virtually. To register for this event, please visit the Library’s website.
Copies of I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness are available through the Library's reserve system or for purchase at the W Store in South Campus Hall. Please note: We are working towards removing barriers to participation, providing easy access to the selected text. We have limited copies available free of cost for those who sign up for the event and indicate they'd like a copy on the registration form.
Data systems researchers receive 2022 ACM SIGMOD Research Highlight Award
This article was originally published on the Cheriton School of Computer Science website.
Cheriton students Jeremy Chen, Yuqing Huang and Mushi Wang and Professors Semih Salihoğlu and Ken Salem have received a 2022 ACM SIGMOD Research Highlight Award for their paper “Accurate summary-based cardinality estimation through the lens of cardinality estimation graphs.” No stranger to scholarly recognition, this research earlier received the Best Experiment, Analysis and Benchmark Award at VLDB 2022, the 48th International Conference on Very Large Databases, where it was presented originally.
“The SIGMOD Research Highlight Award aims to showcase a set of research projects that exemplify core database research,” wrote Wim Martens, chair of the SIGMOD award selection committee in his letter to Professor Salihoğlu. “These projects address an important problem, represent a definitive milestone in solving the problem, and have the potential of significant impact. The initiative of the SIGMOD Research Highlights also aims to make the selected works widely known in the database community, to our industry partners, and potentially to the broader ACM community.”
Ken Salem is a Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science and a member of the Data Systems Group. His research interests are in data systems, especially synchronization, transactions and fault tolerance, and in distributed systems and cloud computing.
Mushi Wang is a master’s candidate at the Cheriton School of Computer Science, advised by Professor Salihoğlu. His research interests are in the integration of graph neural networks into graph database management systems.
Semih Salihoğlu is an Associate Professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science and a member of the Data Systems Group. He conducts both systems and theoretical research in data management and processing. His systems work focuses on developing systems for managing, querying, or doing analytics on graph-structured data.
Jeremy Chen is a software engineer at Snowflake. He is fascinated by distributed systems, large-scale data processing, and databases.
Yuqing Huang is currently a master’s candidate in computer science at ETH Zurich. At Waterloo, she was an undergraduate student double majoring in computer science and combinatorics and optimization.
About this award-winning research
Software applications use database management systems (DBMSs) to store and query data, often organized as tables of records. A core feature of DBMSs is to support high-level declarative query languages, which allow application developers to describe what they want to retrieve from the database, without worrying about how to retrieve it. For example, in the most widely adopted query language called SQL, the query “SELECT name FROM Employee WHERE age < 20” asks the DBMS to return the names of all employees in the employee table who are less than 20 years old, without specifying how the employee table should be searched to identify them. A DBMS can choose to compute the result of even this simple query in many ways. A key feature of DBMSs is that they automatically generate and put together programs, which are called query plans, that correctly answer such high-level queries. DBMSs do this by first finding a set of correct plans for a query, then assign each plan an estimated cost, which is expected to correlate with how long the plan would take, and then selecting the plan with the minimum cost.
The most challenging part of assigning accurate cost estimates to plans is to estimate the number of records they would process. This is called the problem of cardinality estimation. The most common techniques for cardinality estimation are summary-based techniques, which store statistics about the tables and then put these statistics together to come up with an estimate.
In their paper, the research team examined two types of summary-based cardinality estimators — optimistic estimators that make uniformity and conditional independence assumptions and can both under-estimate and over-estimate actual cardinalities, and pessimistic estimators that use information theoretic linear programs that are guaranteed to never underestimate. They showed, surprisingly, that these two classes of estimators are connected and can be seen as instantiations of a more generic estimator, called a cardinality estimation graph (CEG)-based estimator. This discovery had interesting scientific implications, e.g., that the estimates made by the linear program-based pessimistic estimators could be solved using combinatorial algorithms that solve optimistic estimators.
The paper also made an important observation about optimistic estimators. Specifically, the paper showed that when making optimistic estimates, there is often more than one way — corresponding to paths in CEGs — to put the stored statistics together and no obvious technique to decide which one is better. They outlined and empirically evaluated a space of heuristics and showed that the heuristic that leads generally to most accurate estimates depends on the structure of the query and proposed specific estimators to use different classes of queries.
“An important life lesson to draw from the story of this paper is to not give up on a good paper you love,” noted Professor Salihoğlu anecdotally. “Keep stubbornly polishing its writing and positioning. Before winning a VLDB Best Paper Award and now a SIGMOD Research Highlight Award, this paper was rejected three times from SIGMOD and VLDB. It was painful. We knew it was a very strong paper with a clear contribution, but we could not figure out the right way to position it. After three rejections, we finally got it right.”
To learn more about the award-winning research on which this article is based, please see Jeremy Chen, Yuqing Huang, Mushi Wang, Semih Salihoglu, and Ken Salem. Accurate Summary-based Cardinality Estimation Through the Lens of Cardinality Estimation Graphs. PVLDB, 15(8): 1533–1545, 2022. doi:10.14778/3529337.3529339
Professor Mark Vuorinen and The Elora Singers Nominated for a 2023 Juno Award
By Farah Jurdi. This article was originally published on the Conrad Grebel University College website.
The nominations for the 52nd Annual Juno Awards were announced this week, naming some of Canada’s top musicians, singers, songwriters, producers, and more. Included in the nominations is Mark Vuorinen, Associate Professor and Chair of Music at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo, along with The Elora Singers!
As the Artistic Director and Conductor of The Elora Singers, Vuorinen and the choir have been nominated for a Juno Award in the category of Classical Album of the Year (Large Ensemble) for their release of Radiant Dawn: Music for Advent and Christmas.
“It was a lovely surprise to receive the news of our nominations. The news came in during the 10 minutes between two back-to-back classes on Tuesday when I started to receive text messages,” shared Vuorinen. “It’s an honour to be among the other nominees in our category, including the National Arts Centre Orchestra, Ensemble Caprice, I Musici de Montreal, and Viola Borealis. They are all excellent recordings.” he added.
Vuorinen has been Artistic Director of The Elora Singers choir for four years. In this position, he and the choir worked together to perform in creative ways while remaining safe during the pandemic. This included entertaining audiences through recorded digital performances and livestreams, all while social distancing and wearing masks. The recording sessions for this new album were the first time the choir sang together without masks and distancing since the pandemic began. “After singing for two years with 8-10 feet between singers and wearing masks, it was a thrill to hear the ensemble again in the way we had been accustomed,” said Vuorinen.
The group’s passion for song and perseverance through unprecedented times has paid off in countless ways, resulting in their harmonious, Juno-nominated Christmas album, recorded in early fall 2021 and released on November 19, 2021. “The music on the album consists of music that moves through the Advent and Christmas seasons and includes several new settings of familiar carols, as well as newly composed pieces,” shared Vuorinen. “I wanted to feature Canadian composers on the album, and so we included beautiful settings by Canadians, Gerda Blok-Wilson, Derek Holman, Mark Sirett, and Jeff Enns, who also sings in the choir,” he noted.
Grebel celebrates the incredible achievement of Professor Mark Vuorinen and The Elora Singers. As the group strives to provide the gift of music to local, national, and international communities, their art is being recognized as one of Canada’s renowned acts through the 2023 Juno Awards. The next live concerts of The Elora Singers are coming up on March 5 in Kitchener, Baroque Meditations, and in Guelph with a performance of Arvo Pärt’s Passio, on April 2.
“Congratulations from all of Grebel to Mark and The Elora Singers on the well-deserved nomination,” said Grebel Dean Troy Osborne. “This nomination reflects highly on Mark’s leadership and direction of The Elora Singers.”
Stay tuned to discover the winners of the Juno Awards, which will be announced on March 11 in Edmonton, Alberta. Congratulations to Mark Vuorinen and The Elora Singers, as well as all the other nominees.
What the Hack and other notes
Students at the University of Waterloo’s Stratford Campus will be racing against the clock to find creative solutions to pressing problems at today's Wh@t Th3 Hack! creative hackathon. Participants will be teamed up at the event and work together to ideate, research and brainstorm solutions to problems in a surprise creative problem space, all in 2-hours. "Present your 3-minute pitch of a solution and you could win some great prizing if you’re selected as the people’s choice vote," says a note from organizers.
The event, which starts at noon today, is open to all Stratford Campus students, regardless of technical background.
Employers hosting Virtual Employer Information Sessions (VEIS) this week and next week include Bombardier, and Techtronic Industries Canada Inc. Make sure to register through WaterlooWorks and check the calendar for any updates.