Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering
Faculty of Engineering Sciences

My life before BGU:​

It’s difficult to imagine my life before BGU, because the University has been part of my life for over a decade. I completed all three degrees at BGU: a bachelor’s in software engineering, and master’s and PhD degrees in computer science. I was born and raised in Rishon LeZion and went for my postdoc to the University of Texas in Austin.

Why BGU?

The University has a special atmosphere with a unique character and wonderful people; this is why it was clear that I would be returning here. Aside from that, I unequivocally prefer the south over the center, particularly because of the weather (heat is better than humidity), traffic, and cost of living.​

My rese​arch:

I research artificial intelligence. More specifically, I deal with decision making by autonomous agents, such as robots or autonomous vehicles, which interact with the outside world and need to make decisions. For example, an autonomous vehicle must watch the situation on the road at a given moment and decide which action to take (slow, accelerate, turn, etc.) in order to bring its passengers to their destination safely and comfortably. One school approaches such problems based on simulations of the situation following a series of decisions (heuristic search and planning) and identifying the most promising actions produced by the simulation. Another school uses deep reinforcement learning, in which the agents deal with the environment on their own and learn from experience which actions are positive (that is, that can safely deliver the passenger to the destination) and which actions are dangerous (for example, actions that lead to traffic accidents). I work with both approaches and focus on the way they can be integrated to improve the quality of decision making by the agents. The topic of decision making entails many interesting challenges in terms of algorithms, technology, and applications.

An insight from my research:

In general, people are not necessarily good at making decisions. In other words, given a specific problem, it is likely that people will not make the optimal decision. It is certainly possible that various algorithms will arrive at better decisions (for example, in games like chess and go, computer programs play at a higher level than humans). All the same, people’s ability to draw on their experience to make good decisions (overall) in many different fields and facing a range of different problems they hadn’t previously encountered, is worthy of appreciation and far superior (for now) to the capabilities of algorithmic AI. One of the most significant challenges in AI decision making is successfully incorporating past experience in solving new problems. This capability is very difficult to develop and may be taken for granted by us as people.

Something that doesn't appear​ on my CV:

I am happily married, with two small children who don’t leave me much time for hobbies, but I love playing board games when possible. 

When I grow​ up:

At no point in my life did I imagine that I would wind up as a researcher in academia. As a child, I was more interested in physics and didn't study computers in high school. While studying for my undergraduate degree in software engineering, my goal was to graduate and get a job in industry. I decided to try going for a master's degree as part of the Meitar program, which allowed me to begin my studies concurrently with my undergrad. Over time, I realized that I wanted to do research, even at the cost of forgoing the salaries in the hi-tech industry​.

If I wasn’t a researcher, I would​...

Develop algorithms for industry (and my bank account would be happier). 

In Brief: 

» Fauda or Big Brother? Rick and Morty
» Yoga or CrossFit? Neither. I used to do mixed martial arts and really enjoyed it
» Hapoel or Maccabi? No
» Ravid Plotnik or Noa Kirel? Nechi Nech (Ravid Plotnik), hands down
» Steak or tofu? Steak, though I struggle with this morally
» Trekking or the spa? Spa
» Car or train? Anywhere the train reaches, obviously the train; but it's actually quite hard to get to most places without a car.
» Classical Europe or India? I've never been to India, and am really interested in travelling there
» Ocean or pool? Ocean
» Night or morning? Morning. After a certain time, the cogwheels in my head stop turning
» Winter or summer? Summer
» City or country? City, but in a house with a garden
» Film or play? Both
» Phone call or text message? Text
» Savory or sweet? Both, and together is even better (Golda's salted cashew ice cream)
» Android or iPhone? Android
» Cat or dog? Cats are cuter, but they have cats' personalities. So, dog
» Facebook or Twitter? Reddit​