Portrait of Alex Slivkins

Alex Slivkins

Senior Researcher


I am a Senior Researcher at MSR New York City. My research interests are in algorithms and theoretical computer science, spanning machine learning theory, algorithmic economics, and networks. Across various domains, I am drawn to algorithmic problems with informational constraints. I am particularly interested in exploration-exploitation tradeoff and online machine learning, and their manifestations in mechanism design and human computation. Another major line of my work is on the analysis of Internet and social networks, metric embeddings, and distance/routing data structures. My work has been recognized with the best paper award at ACM EC 2010, best paper nomination at WWW 2015, and the best student paper award at ACM PODC 2005.

Before joining MSR-NYC in 2013, I was a member of MSR Silicon Valley since 2007. I received my Ph.D. in Computer Science from Cornell University in 2006, under the supervision of Jon Kleinberg. In 2006-2007 I was a postdoc at Brown University with Eli Upfal. My undergraduate degree is B.S. in Mathematics (with distinction) from Caltech.

Book project. I am working on a book draft, “Introduction multi-armed bandits“, based on this course. The idea is to provide a teachable/accessible introduction to a dozen or so major topics in bandits. The current draft (Jan 2017) is a collection of somewhat polished lecture notes, and covers about 2/3 of the intended content.

“Projects” at MSR

Multiworld Testing: a methodology and a system for contextual bandits.
Explore-exploit learning at MSR-NYC
Multi-armed bandits at MSR-SV (inactive since the closure of MSR-SV)

Former interns: Steven Wu (2015, 2016), Chien-Ju Ho (2013, 2014), Ashwinkumar Badanidiyuru (2012, 2013), Sigal Oren (2011), Shiri Chechik (2010), Yogeshwer Sharma (2008).


All publications (with abstracts): by year and by topic.

Representative publications

Bayesian Incentive-Compatible Bandit Exploration (Rev. Oct’15) (slides)
Yishay Mansour, Aleksandrs Slivkins and Vasilis Syrgkanis
EC 2015: ACM Symp. on Economics and Computation

Incentivizing High Quality Crowdwork
Chien-Ju Ho, Aleksandrs Slivkins, Siddharth Suri, and Jennifer Wortman Vaughan
WWW 2015: 24th Intl. World Wide Web Conference (Nominee for Best Paper Award).
Short version: SIGecom Exchanges, Dec 2015.

Online Decision Making in Crowdsourcing Markets: Theoretical Challenges
[position paper & survey]
Aleksandrs Slivkins and Jennifer Wortman Vaughan
SIGecom Exchanges, Dec 2013.

Bandits with Knapsacks (Rev. Jun’15)
Ashwinkumar Badanidiyuru, Robert Kleinberg and Aleksandrs Slivkins.
FOCS 2013: IEEE Symp. on Foundations of Computer Science.
To appear in J. of the ACM (upon a revision).

Low-distortion Inference of Latent Similarities from a Multiplex Social Network
Ittai Abraham, Shiri Chechik, David Kempe and Aleksandrs Slivkins.
SIAM J. on Computing, Vol. 44(3), 2015.
SODA 2013: ACM-SIAM Symp. on Discrete Algorithms.

Truthful Mechanisms with Implicit Payment Computation (Rev. Nov’15)
Moshe Babaioff, Robert Kleinberg and Aleksandrs Slivkins.
J. of the ACM, Volume 62, Issue 2, May 2015.
EC 2010: ACM Symp. on Electronic Commerce (Best Paper Award).

Bandits and Experts in Metric Spaces (Rev. Nov’15)
Robert Kleinberg, Aleksandrs Slivkins and Eli Upfal.
Preliminary versions published in:
STOC 2008: ACM Symp. on Theory of Computing.
SODA 2010: ACM-SIAM Symp. on Discrete Algorithms.

Meridian: A Lightweight Network Location Service without Virtual Coordinates
Bernard Wong, Aleksandrs Slivkins and Emin G. Sirer.

Distance Estimation and Object Location via Rings of Neighbors
PODC 2005: ACM Symp. on Principles of Distributed Computing
      (Best Student Paper Award).
Special issue of “Distributed Computing”: Vol. 19, No. 4. (March 2007).

Metric Embeddings with Relaxed Guarantees
T-H.H. Chan, K. Dhamdhere, A. Gupta, J. Kleinberg and A. Slivkins.
SIAM J. on Computing, 38(6): 2303-2329, March 2009.
FOCS 2005: IEEE Symp. on Foundations of Computer Science.

Triangulation and Embedding using Small Sets of Beacons (Rev. 2008)
Jon Kleinberg, Aleksandrs Slivkins and Tom Wexler.
J. of the ACM, 56(6), Sept 2009.
FOCS 2004: IEEE Symp. on Foundations of Computer Science.

Ph.D. Thesis: Embedding, Distance Estimation and Object Location in Networks (2006).


Current/recent program committees:
ACM EC 2017 (senior PC), SPAA 2017 (single-tier PC), NIPS 2017 (area chair).

Workshops co-organized:

SCUGC 2015: 5th Workshop on Social Computing and User Generated Content at EC’15.
NYCE Day 2014: 7th annual New York Computer Science and Economics Day
SCUGC 2014: 4th Workshop on Social Computing and User Generated Content at EC’14.



Advanced Topics in Theory of Computing: Bandits, Experts, and Games (Fall 2016)
Computer Science Department, University of Maryland at College Park

Tutorial on Dynamic Pricing under Model Uncertainty: Learning & Earning
Joint with Assaf Zeevi. Presented at ACM EC 2015 (tutorial proposal).