Interview with Max Harper (Co-Chair of ACM RecSys 2022) on Career Choices, Work-Life Balance, and More

The ACM RecSys conference starts tomorrow, and I had the opportunity to talk for almost an hour with Max Harper, one of the general co-chairs of the ACM RecSys conference this year.

We talk about Max’ career — he did his PhD under the supervision of Joe Konstan, worked for many years on GroupLens and MovieLens, is on the steering committee of the ACM RecSys conference, and works as a Senior Applied Scientist at Amazon — and the following topics:

  • Career choice: Industry vs Academia
  • Teaching and student supervision
  • PhDs in the USA (duties, funding…)
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Role Models
  • Joseph Konstan as a Ph.D. supervisor
  • Organization of the ACM RecSys 2022

I believe the interview is particularly interesting for graduate students and Ph.D. students who consider a career in recommender systems. Max is a very experienced and successful researcher who worked for years in both academia and industry. Learning about his life and career could provide valuable guidance for young researchers.

The interview is available on YourTube, but only the audio, no video. If you have any questions or comments, post them here on the blog or on YouTube.

The ACM Recommender Systems Conference (RecSys) is an annual international conference that focuses on the latest research and developments in the field of recommender systems. The conference is organized by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and is considered one of the most prestigious and influential conferences in the field. The conference has been held annually since 2006 and has grown in popularity and importance over the years, attracting researchers, practitioners, and industry leaders from around the world.

The conference covers a wide range of topics related to recommender systems, including but not limited to, novel algorithms and approaches, evaluation methods, user engagement and interfaces, explainable AI and ethical issues, real-world deployments, and practical challenges. The conference also features keynote speeches, technical sessions, workshops, tutorials, and demos.

The general co-chair of a conference like RecSys is responsible for overseeing the organization and execution of the conference. This includes tasks such as securing funding, building the program committee, coordinating the review process, and overseeing the logistics of the conference. The general co-chair also works closely with the other co-chairs, the ACM staff, and the local organizing committee to ensure that the conference runs smoothly and meets the expectations of the attendees.

Being a general co-chair of a conference like RecSys is a lot of work as it requires a significant investment of time and energy. However, it can also be a very rewarding experience as it provides an opportunity to shape the direction of the field, to connect with leaders in the field, and to contribute to the growth and visibility of the conference.

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