Akshar Varma

Photo PhD Candidate
Khoury College of Computer Sciences
Northeastern University




I am a PhD candidate working with Dr. Ravi Sundaram in the Theoretical Computer Science Group at Northeastern University. I expect to graduate by Summer 2024.

Before joining NEU, I completed my B.Tech. degree (2013-2017) in Information and Communication Technology from DAIICT, Gandhinagar, India (see Bachelor Thesis). I also got a minor in Computational Sciences and still have some lingering interest in areas like High Performance Computing, Complex Networks, and Modelling and Simulation.

Resume [PDF] (Updated March 2023)
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Research

I am interested in understanding the theoretical aspects of problems arising in Computer Science. In particular problems related to:

  1. Machine learning: specifically those related to kernels and random features, overparametrization, convergence and generalization in neural networks.
  2. Graph algorithms: specifically those dealing with either estimating or leveraging various kinds of graph parameters and utilizing that to solve problems; as well as various hardness results and lower bounds for such problems. I am also interested in how a theoretician needs a heterogeneous toolkit today including techniques generally sequestered into subfields like approximation, randomized, sublinear or fixed parameter tractable algorithms. I am also working on a problem that has to resort to the (mostly heuristic) world of machine learning to solve certain graph problems.

My PhD thesis’ focus is on the heterogeneous toolkit that is needed for graph problems given the prevalence of large data sets as well as problem scenarios that are less structured.

Publications

DBLP Profile
Google Scholar


Here are a list of my publications. The symbol indicates alphabetical ordering of authors as is customary in theoretical computer science.

Workshops


Teaching

I was the instructor for CS3000 (UG Algorithms and Data) in 2023 Summer 2 (July-August): Homepage.

I have been a Teaching Assistant (TA) for a variety of Algorithms and Data Structures courses at Northeastern University: CS4800 (UG) in Sep–Dec 2017, CS3000 (UG) in Jan–Apr 2021, CS5800 (graduate) in Sep–Dec of 2019, 2021, 2022, CS5002 (graduate) in Sep–Dec of 2023. I was the head TA in CS5002 (in 2023) as well as all of the CS5800 Algorithms courses. The Algorithms courses contained anywhere between 100 and 300 students in any given semester. Over the numerous offerings I have been responsible for each aspect of the course, including: creating (and deciding a rubric for) problem sets, recitation handouts, exam papers, quizzes, programming assignments, etc.; teaching lectures when the instructor was traveling; running recitation sections; tutoring students from a non-Computer Science background; assisting the instructor in managing workload among the other TAs.

To help with TAing, I made a LaTeX template for easily creating the various handouts seen in such courses. You can find it on my repo of various LaTeX templates; see the course-handout-usage-example.tex file for an example of using the course-handouts-preamble.sty style file.

In the past (Jul–Nov 2016) I have also been a Teaching Assistant for an undergraduate High Performance Computing course offered to juniors. Experiences in teaching this course, and the tools we hacked up to help, lead to the development of a web-based platform to aid HPC education and a journal paper. Details above. ⤴


Miscellany

My Emacs config idea h/t, on EmacsWiki

Footnotes


Last modified: May 18, 2024