Margareta Ackerman
Assistant Professor
Computer Science Department
Florida State University
259 James J. Love Building
Tallahassee, FL32306-4530

Office: LOV264
Phone: (850)645-4029

Short Bio

I completed my Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Waterloo and held Postdoctoral Fellowships at Caltech and UC San Diego. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at Florida State University.


I specialize in artificial intelligence, with an emphasis on machine learning spanning from formal foundations to emerging applications in big data and computational media.

My research on machine learning focuses on clustering, which is one of the most popular data mining tools, applied in a wide range of disciplines, from astronomy, bioinformatics, and collaborative filtering, to game design, marketing, and zoology. All these disciplines use clustering to identify groups of similar items in data. Yet, despite its popularity, there is a substantial gap between theory and practice and insufficient interaction between the communities that apply and study clustering. My work focuses on bridging this gap through the integration of clustering theory and practice in the standard batch model, as well as the increasingly popular incremental and streaming settings for clustering big data. To learn more about this research area, have a look at my brief overview on foundations of clustering.

I am also interested in computational media and computational creativity, two related, emerging fields in Artificial Intelligence. These disciplines challenge common perceptions in computer science, the arts, and humanities by redefining the computer as a medium for creative expression. Computational media offers many opportunities to utilize the power of machine learning in new domains, including music, computer games, visual art, and dance while computational creativity challenges us to design systems that act as autonomous creative agents. These exciting new areas of research have also been used to find innovative solutions in scientific discovery and education.

Please visit my research page for information on my current research projects.

Selected Publications
Here is a complete list of my publications.

Invited Talks
  • Progress and Open Problems in Clustering. Conference of the International Federation of Classification Societies (IFCS). Bologna, Italy, 2015.
  • Theoretical Foundations of Clustering. Purdue University. West Lafayette, IN, 2014.
  • Characterization of Linkage-Based Clustering. Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA. 2013.
  • Formal Foundations of Clustering. ID Analytics. San Diego, CA, 2013.
  • Formal Foundations of Clustering. eHarmony. Santa Monica, CA, 2013.
  • Towards Theoretical Foundations of Clustering. Information Theory and Applications Workshop. La Jolla, CA, 2013.
  • Weighted Clustering. University of California, San Diego. La Jolla, CA, 2012.
  • Towards Theoretical Foundations of Clustering. Caltech. Pasadena, CA, 2012.
  • Towards Theoretical Foundations of Clustering. Columbia University. New York, NY, 2012.
  • On Theoretical Foundations of Clustering. University of California, Berkeley. Berkeley, CA, 2011.
  • Characterization of Linkage-Based Algorithms. University of California, San Diego. La Jolla, CA, 2010.
Grants and Fellowships
  • Co-PI, with Marie Roch and Simone Baumann-Pickering. Unsupervised Learning (Clustering) of Odontocete Echolocation Clicks. Office of Naval Research, 2015-2017. $400,000.
  • PI. First Year Assistant Professor Award. Foundations of Incremental Clustering. Florida State University, 2015. $20,000.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), 2012-2014. $80,000.
  • Alexander Bell Canadian Graduate Scholarship. NSERC, 2009-2012. $140,000.
  • President's graduate scholarship. University of Waterloo, 2006- 2011. $50,000.
  • David R. Cheriton Scholarship. University of Waterloo, 2010-2011. $20,000.
  • Ontario graduate scholarship. Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities, 2006-2009. $51,000.

Artistic Training and Accomplishments

My work in computational media benefits from extensive artistic training. I've received four years of vocal training, focusing on opera, and have studied classical piano and improvisation, as well as Meiser's acting technique.

In addition, I've written a Holocaust memoir, Running from Giants: The Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Child, which tells my grandfather's story as a child during the Holocaust. This book is currently in use in Florida public schools.