Learning Club

The BIU Learning Club is a seminar in machine learning, data science, & applications at Bar-Ilan University.

Announcements are made in the following group: (link).


The learning club is organized by Bronya Roni Chernyak. 

Upcoming Talks:

(see here for calendar view)

DSI Updates Q4 2020


DSI Updates – Q4, 2020


Recent Calls 

Vatat Call for PhD and Postdoc scholarships

We are happy to share that this year we had 3 winners:

VATAT scholarships for outstanding Postdoc students (1 out of 3 total nationwide!):

  • Bracha Laufer Goldstein, the Faculty of Engineering

VATAT scholarship for outstanding Data Science doctoral students (2 out of 10 total nationwide!):

  • Omer Kaspi, Department of Chemistry
  • Lior Bracha, the Brain Research Center   

Vatat Competitive Call 

Recently, Bar-Ilan’s response to the Vatat Competitive Call for additional funding to the data science centers in all universities was completed and submitted by the DSI. The response to the Call, with a 4-year NIS 58 million national budget for all universities (up to NIS 16 million per institution), consisted of six strong projects proposed by 15 faculty members (PIs and Co-PIs of the submitted proposal), spread across various departments and units (CS Department, Faculty of Engineering, Math. Department, Brain Research Center, Faculty of Life Science, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Law and Psychology Department). We are hoping to be informed soon that Bar-Ilan won significant support, which will allow additional collaborations, enlarging the BIU DS community and enhancing computing infrastructure. 

ISF DS and Social Sciences

ISF opened this year, as part of its Personal Research Grants Program, a special track of Data Science in Social Sciences. BIU had 3 submissions from PIs in Engineering, Information Science, Criminology, Education and Law. 

Upcoming Calls

Future DSI 2021 Calls

The DSI will soon come out with calls for research grants and event grants in the field of data science as well as scholarships for data science research students. We are inviting all the community members to take part and submit their proposals as the DSI Calls come out.

Open Relevant Calls (Non-DSI)


ELLIS (European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems) is a European grassroots initiative in AI with a focus on scientific excellence, innovation and societal impact. It aims to create a European AI Laboratory inspired by models such as EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) and the Vector Institute (Toronto). 

We plan to apply to have BIU a member university of ELLIS. In meantime, we encourage all DSI faculty members to become an ELLIS member (does not require BIU to be a member). Note that there are other benefits including an ELLIS PhD Program.  Existing Bar-Ilan members: Prof. Ido Dagan, Prof. Yoav Goldberg and Prof. Gal Chechik. 

Vatat’s Data Science Steering Committee Report

Vatat recently shared a report summarizing its Data Science Steering committee’s findings. We would like to thank Prof. Gal Chechik for representing Bar-Ilan in the committee and for a work well done!

Part of the report was based on a survey of 685 faculty members in Israel. Bar-Ilan stands out with over 100 faculty members from Bar-Ilan who participated in the survey. Bar-Ilan is also clearly the most diverse set of faculty members spanning over a very wide range of faculties and departments. 


  • IBM Cloud computing workshop series: IBM offered to host a series of workshops on various cloud computing topics exclusively to BIU researchers and students. 
  • Nvidia GPU programming workshop: NVIDIA offered to host a technical workshop on GPU programming exclusively to BIU researchers and students. Workshop will take place on 9 March 2021 10-12am. Workshop will cover working with containers in a GPU environment, multi gpu programming, useful tools and more. For more details and registration please see: http://dsi.biu.ac.il/event/nvidia-gpu-programming-workshop/
  • R: We are planning on opening a BIU community of R users aimed for faculty members and grad students who use R in their research. If interested, please send an email to Dr. Yogev Kivity – yogev.kivity@biu.ac.il
  • Oracle POC: As part of a POC with Oracle Cloud Platform they have offered us free credits to use their platform to be used in the next couple of months. Platform includes a wide range of possible server configurations including strong GPUs. If interested please send an email to oren.glickman@biu.ac.il.


All relevant events are posted on the DSI website.

Learning Club – Machine Learning Talk Series

The BIU Learning club is an ongoing seminar on machine learning that takes place on Sundays featuring select speakers from Israel and abroad.  

Upcoming talk: On Size Generalization in Graph Neural Networks and Lottery Tickets

When: Time: Sunday Jan 10th, 2021 12:00 PM – 13:00 PM.

Speaker: Gilad Yehudai from Weizmann Institute of Science

LawData Lab

The LawData Lab has a series of events during the year, including conferences and a lab seminar,  in which a number of guest speakers will be hosted. Meetings are held at Zoom. The next two events are a conference, with the Israel Tech Policy Institute, about the use of AI and algorithmic decision-making in governmental services on 26.1.21; and an international conference, with the the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Digital Governance, about digital governance during Covid-19 on 17-18.2.21

DSI Dinner

Unfortunately, during Covid we were not able to hold an on-campus community event. In the meantime, we would like to share the following story shared by Prof. Roy Gelbard (DS member, The School of Business Administration):

Dr. Anna Khalemsky, a PhD student of Roy has recently graduated (congrats Anna!). Her recent Molecular Informatics publication – “Dynamic Classification for Materials-Informatics: Mining the Solar Cell Space” by Abraham Yosipof, Anna Khalemsky, Roy Gelbard and Hanoch Senderowitz was a direct result of the institute’s second dinner. Anna presented her work as a poster as well as Avi (Dr. Abraham Yosipof, at the time a Phd Student at Chemistry Dept. under supervision by Prof. Hanouch Senderowitz) in the dinner event. The joint exposure resulted in exchanging ideas and collaboration resulting in development of a new methodology and the joint publication. 

Hopefully, we will be able to all meet face to face this spring and foster more collaborations!

Introduction to Data Science Workshop

The University of Haifa’s Data Science Research Center offers a series of workshops for faculty members and research students who have no background in the field of data science. As part of our collaboration with the center, they have opened the workshops to DSI faculty members and their grand students. The workshop consists of 7-8 sessions (zoom), each session lasts 3 hours. To register for the workshop Introduction to Data Science without programming, fill in the following details: https://forms.gle/qES5ayNur95TmgSK6.

Please mark the date of the lecture that best suits you. 


DSI Members: Congratulations, Appointments, Awards and Grants


  • Congratulations to Prof. Liat Ayalon from the School of Social Work on her election to the Advisory Committee on Senior Citizens to the Minister Meirav Cohen from the Ministry of Social Equality and to the Advisory Committee to the World Health Organization on the long-term care of the elderly.
  • Dr. Ariel Rosenfeld from the Department of Information Science was elected as Conference Chair of the 18th European Conference on Multi-Agent Systems. 
  • Congratulations to Prof. Sharon Gannot from the Faculty of Engineering on his elevation to IEEE Fellow.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Ayelet Sela from the Faculty of Law on choosing her to be one of the 40 promising young people under the age of 40 in TheMarker.  

Noteworthy Publication and Best Paper Awards

  • Congratulations to Prof. Sharon Gannot from the Faculty of Engineering on the occasion of selecting his article as an “outstanding article” in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Amir Bashan from the Department of Physics for publishing his article in Nature Metabolism.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern on her recent Nucleic Acids Research paper: “COVID19 Drug Repository: text-mining the literature in search of putative COVID19 therapeutics”.

Awards and Grants

  • Congratulations to Prof. Hadar Dancing-Rosenberg and Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari from the Faculty of Law on winning the EU scholarships. 
  • Congratulations to Prof. Hadar Dancing-Rosenberg for winning a research scholarship from the JDC.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Adam Zaidel from the Brain Research Center for winning a grant from the National Science Foundation.
  • Dr. Maayan Zhitomirsky-Geffet is a member of the European consortium that received funding of 2,000,000 Euro from Horizon 2020 for SwafS15-2019 for Citizen Scientists Investigating Cookies and App GDPR compliance, CSI-COP.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Ittai Bar-Siman-Tov from the Faculty of Law and LawData Lab for winning a research grant from the Volkswagen Foundation for a study that will use data science tools to investigate the Effects of Covid-19 on the Functioning of Parliaments (together with Thomas Saalfeld & Olivier Rozenberg).
  • Congratulations to Prof. Omry Koren for winning the prestigious ERC Consolidated research fund.

DSI Students: Congratulations, Scholarships and Awards


  • Congratulations to Ofir Stegmann, a PhD student from the Faculty of Law and the Department of Mathematics on winning the President Scholarship for Excellence and Scientific Innovation for his proposal “The Knesset  Network – Connectivity and Success”.
  • Congratulations to Ayelet Peres, a PhD student from the Faculty of Engineering, for winning a doctoral scholarship for outstanding women in the high-tech fields. 
  • Congratulations to Yanai Elazar, a PhD student from the Department of Computer Science, on winning the prestigious Google PhD Fellowship for 2020.
  • Congratulations to Bar Fargon Mizrahi, a PhD student from the Faculty of Law and LawData Lab, for winning the best paper award in the international conference on Human Sovereignty and Machine Efficiency in the Law in Hong Kong. 

Research Spotlights

LawData Lab

The BIU Innovation Lab for Law, Data-Science and Digital Ethics at Bar Ilan-University Faculty of Law focuses on two primary tracks: (1) data-driven legal research using various data-science methods (e.g., ML, NLP, social network analysis); (2) normative and ethical analysis, focusing on legal and regulatory aspects of big data, data analytics and AI, and on ensuring proper data governance. The lab is based on an interdisciplinary collaboration between legal researchers from the BIU Faculty of Law and data scientists from the BIU Data Science Institute and other affiliated BIU departments. It is also based on an international collaboration as part of the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence on Digital Governance (DIGOV). It additionally works with partners from technology companies and other industry and government actors. This year, Dr. Keren Yalin-Mor, who has a background in both law and computer science, joined the lab as lab manager.


The first academic center of its kind for the study of the treatment, rehabilitation and prevention of addiction has been inaugurated at Bar-Ilan University. The center, headed by Prof. Natti Ronel from the Department of Criminology, is a joint venture of Bar-Ilan and the Retorno organization, which was founded 30 years ago by Rabbi Eitan Eckstein and operates in Beit Shemesh. 

The new Bar-Ilan Retorno Center envisions two main directions: The first is the application of data science by the therapeutic community: as data from a variety of sources accumulates (e.g., weather, meal menu, community events), the community will be able to adapt treatment to the needs of the particular patient, as is done in personalized medicine, and to adapt itself to the needs of all patients. Data science will also allow for the creation of a growing body of research knowledge. The second research direction is to encourage Retorno employees to initiate and conduct research, as research physicians do at a university hospital. The Bar-Ilan Retorno Center will operate as an “impact center” in accordance with Bar-Ilan University’s preeminent research approach, which addresses the challenges of the future, integrating various fields of knowledge in multidisciplinary research. 

Opening event at Retorno with Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats and Prof. Arie Zaban – see news article:  https://www.inn.co.il/news/450062


Among the goals of the DSI is to strengthen and extend the data science course and program offerings at Bar-Ilan. As part of this goal, we have initiated a committee headed by the Bar-Ilan Rector, with representatives from the core data science departments. The first goal of the committee is to increase, improve and consolidate the applied data science course and program offerings in STEM departments. In parallel to this initiative, the DSI is continuing its support in this academic year for including python as the programming course of choice in multiple STEM departments, including Chemistry, Brain Science, Math and Engineering. 

DS Course List

We would like to remind you that we (the DSI) maintain a list of data science courses that are given at BIU, which can be easily explored by different category types. The interactive list is available on our website: 

Open Positions

M.A., Ph.D. and Postdoc positions

  • Open M.S. position to work on a funded project on ”The Network Properties of Word Embeddings” under the supervision of Prof.  Reuven Cohen and  Dr. Simi Haber (Math) and Prof. Yoav Goldberg (CS).
  • Open PhD and MSc positions at the Neural Interfaces lab lead by Prof. Izhar Bar-Gad:
    • Identification of involuntary movements from video: In a joint project with Schneider children’s hospital they collected videos from Tourette syndrome patients displaying involuntary facial movements (motor tics).
      • Research definition: Unsupervised learning algorithms for identifying repeating behavioral motifs from the video.
      • Required background: Computer vision, Machine learning.
  • Identification of animal behavior from a kinematic time series: They record kinematic signals (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer) from animals during natural behavior. This information is consequently used to decode the behavior and link it to brain activity.
    • Research definition: Unsupervised learning algorithms for identifying repeating behavioral motifs from the kinematic signals.
    • Required background: Machine learning, Time series analysis.

For more details, please reach out to: Prof. Izhar Bar-Gad (Brain Research Center).

  • Tomer Kalisky’s research group is studying single-cell genomics in development, regeneration, and cancer using computational data analysis and machine learning algorithms. They are hiring graduate students for M.Sc. and Ph.D. positions. Qualifications: a strong background in engineering, physics, mathematics, computer science, or computational biology. Excellent undergraduate students are also encouraged to apply. For more details see: single cell genomics lab or contact Tomer.kalisky@biu.ac.il.

RA and Student positions 

  • An MA student with python/data-science skills for work on a funded project led by Dr. Rose Stamp in the English Literature & Linguistics department. The project will include analysis of sign language and motion capture data using machine learning and python scripts. 50% position. Work expected to result in academic publications.

For details please contact Dr. Rose Stamp – rose.stamp@biu.ac.il.

  • Prof. Sharon Gannot is looking for talented and committed PhD students and/or Postdoctoral trainees with strong background in statistical signal processing and machine learning. Experience in audio signal processing and high programming skills will be considered as an advantage. Suitable for advanced Computer Science or Engineering students. Students will be paid on an hourly basis, for application development as part of a study in the department of Psychology. 

Academic Positions


Nvidia Deep Learning Institute (DLI) Ambassadors 

Nvidia Deep Learning Institute (DLI) is looking for PhD students/academic faculty members who wish to be Ambassadors – certified on Nvidia courses, and who may run Nvidia courses free of charge at the universities (note – these courses are usually paid courses). Up until now there were 6 ambassadors from 3 universities in Israel, and the desire is to expand the local ambassador numbers. Running these courses at the university can be a great benefit for students and faculty – where courses vary from Fundamentals of DL to areas like NLP, Video Analytics, and more. Courses usually run as 1 day seminars.

For more information on Nvidia DLI and the Ambassador program see these two links below:

Internship Opportunities

2021 Internships with the Facebook Core Data Science team

The Core Data Science team at Facebook Research is accepting applications for an intern position in London & Tel Aviv. They are looking for PhD students and postdocs with experience in one or more of the following fields: ML, Statistics, Computational Social Science, CS, Algorithmic Game Theory, Operations Research and adjacent areas. The internship programme consists of 12-16 weeks of full time paid work.  Apply here: 

The Data Science Institute at Bar-Ilan University
For further information or to unsubscribe from future updates – dsi@biu.ac.il

IBM cloud computing technical workshop series

Containers101: Containers, Docker, Kubernetes

When: Tue 26/1/2020 14:00-16:00 (Zoom).

Registration: https://forms.gle/aNBiqc1dG1XshLp3A

If you are starting your journey into the containerized world, the first thing you’ll come across is Docker. This Webinar will give you a quick start: it will provide you with the tools to play with Docker. Also you will get a glimpse to orchestration solutions like Kubernetes and Openshift.

Docker container technology separates applications from the underlying Operating System and infrastructure. Containers technology virtualizes the Operating System (OS), and thanks to it only the application, and specific dependencies like libraries and binaries are being packaged in the image. Starting such an image is much faster omitting start of an OS. In addition the image now is very portable among various host servers running the Docker engine.

🎓 What will you learn?

In this webinar you will learn the fundamentals and basic concepts of Containers, Docker, Kubernetes and OpenShift. The overview will be followed by a hands-on lab where you will get to build Docker images and run them.

👩 Who should attend?

Developers and those interested in DevOps, IT, containers and application deployment.

🎙️ Speakers

Jaffa Sztejnbok – Developer Advocate @ IBM

🎂Prior to the event

1. Go and get an IBM Cloud Account – needed for the workshop https://ibm.biz/Bdq7se

<!!> The workshop is practical, bring your laptops <!!>

For further details contact: dsi@biu.ac.il

ELLIS Ph.D. Program application

The European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems offers an interdisciplinary PhD program. The ELLIS PhD program is a key element of the ELLIS initiative and its goal is to foster and educate the best talent in machine learning related research areas by pairing outstanding students with leading academic and industrial researchers in Europe.
The program supports excellent PhDs across Europe by giving them access to leading research through boot camps, summer schools and workshops of the ELLIS programs. Every PhD student is supervised by one ELLIS fellow/scholar and one ELLIS member from a different country and conducts a 1 year exchange at the other location.
ELLIS seeks to increase diversity and the number of women in areas where they are underrepresented and we explicitly encourage women to apply. We are committed to employing more handicapped individuals and especially encourage them to apply.
Application website: apply.ellis.eu (portal will open on October 1st, 2020)
Application deadline: December 1st, 2020, 23:59 CEST


CFP – Machine Lawyering Conference: Human Sovereignty and Machine Efficiency in the Law

Call For Papers
Machine Lawyering Conference: Human Sovereignty and Machine Efficiency in the Law

14 Jan 2021 – 16 Jan 2021, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (or virtual)

Automation is efficient: data is gathered, processed and used to do things people cannot. Yet we have lived in a world run by and for humans, in which human sovereignty has seemed to be more important than efficiency of performance. Sovereignty and efficiency are beginning to show strong potential for conflict. For the law, this presents questions at every stage: the nature and protection of data, the manner in which it is communicated and stored, the models and algorithms according to which it is processed, the authority it is given to act, and the people whose labor it replaces. Conceptually, this evolution presents legal academics with questions ranging from the nature of society (human centered or efficiency centered?) and data to the shape of technical rules for the construction of algorithms and the supervision of automated execution.

The CUHK Law Faculty’s Centre for Financial Regulation and Economic Development (CFRED) created Machine Lawyering in 2017 to offer an umbrella under which all of the above issues can be explored. Participants in the first Machine Lawyering conference, January 2020, presented papers on issues from the consciousness of artificial intelligence to the ability of fintech applications to manipulate market prices and the use of automation in the practice of law. It created a very effective cross-pollination of ideas for all participants. Machine Lawyering’s second conference in 2021 will be equally broad.

We hope to hold the conference physically in Hong Kong, but will also work through virtual presentations, so please do not let uncertainty regarding travel dissuade you from submitting a paper. A number of best paper prizes (round trip economy to Hong Kong and three nights’ accommodation) will be offered.

These are the RELEVANT DATES:
Abstract (max 350 words) submission: 14 September 2020
Notification of acceptance: 16 October 2020
Paper submission for best paper prize 2 November 2020
Registration deadline for accepted authors: 7 December 2020
Draft paper submission for all authors: 8 January 2021

TOPICS: For the avoidance of doubt, papers on the following topics are within the conference scope:
– Algorithms and profiling (from KYC to oppression)
– Big Data and data analytics in finance, regulation, scholarship and society
– Competition law in the big data industries
– Cybersecurity
– Emerging alternative finance
– Facial recognition: special problems
– Intellectual property in automated systems
– Legal treatment of AI-driven operations and services
– Nature and regulation of payment systems (cryptoassets, stored value, mobile payment, non-bank systems)
– Personal data, including nature, collection, processing and use
– Social consequences of automation for the workforce
– Special problems of distributed ledger technology

SUBMISSION PROCEDURE: Please submit abstracts via email to Bonnie Leung at swleung@cuhk.edu.hk. Please provide an attached file with an anonymous, blind copy of your abstract, but indicate your name, contact details, and the proposed paper title in your cover email. The subject line of the email should state “Submission for Machine Lawyering Conference.” Further information is available on the Machine Lawyering website.

מגשימים AI

קול קורא למנטורים בתחום בינה מלאכותית: למידת מכונה ומדעי הנתונים

אמ;לק: אנחנו מחפשים את עזרתך להנחות מקצועית זוג תלמידי י”ב מצטיינים בפרויקט AI. שעה בשבוע בזום. (הרשמה)

(אנו משתמשים בלשון זכר לשם הקיצור, הפניה היא לזכר ונקבה כאחד.) ההנחיה מתאימה לתלמידי מאסטר ודוקטורט, פוסטדוקים וחברי סגל בתחום למידת מכונה ומדעי הנתונים.

מזה עשר שנים פועלת בישראל תוכנית לאומית בשם מגשימים להכשרת תלמידי תיכון בעלי יכולות גבוהות בתחום מדעי המחשב המגיעים מהפריפריה החברתית. תלמידים שעוברים את המיונים, עוברים הכשרה במקביל ללימודי התיכון בתחומי מדעי המחשב, רשתות, סייבר ותכנות. בכיתה י”ב הם מממשים פרוייקט מעשי בהיקף נרחב, שעליו הם מקבלים ציון בגרות. את הפרויקט מלווים “מנטורים” מקצועיים שמייעצים לחניכים בהיקף של שעה בשבוע. 70% מבוגרי התוכנית מתגייסים למערכי הסייבר במערכת הביטחון. בעבר, רוב הפרויקטים היו בתחומי הסייבר, אך כיום כשני שליש מהחניכים מעוניינים בפרויקטים בתחומי למידה ובינה מלאכותית. 

הדרישה הגוברת הזו לפרוייקטי י”ב  בתחום ה- AI מהווה הזדמנות מיוחדת להכשיר תלמידים. לכן, ביחד עם מגשימים, אנחנו בונים הרחבה של התוכנית והפרוייקטים לתחום. ישראל נמצאת היום בתנופה בתחומי הבינה המלאכותית, עם ביקוש עצום למומחיות בתחומי למידת מכונה ומדעי הנתונים ומחסור בידע נגיש. יש לנו הזדמנות נדירה שמשיגה מספר מטרות: להנגיש את הידע האקדמי לתלמידים, לפתח אצל סטודנטים חוקרים את היכולת להנחות פרוייקטים, לקדם פריפריה חברתית בישראל, וליצור ידע בעברית שיהיה נגיש למתחילים בתחומי ה- DS/ML. תוכנית מגשימים כבר הוכיחה שיש להם תהליך מנצח כולל איתור ושימור תלמידי מרקעים לא פשוטים, ואפשר לרתום אותה כדי לקדם AI בישראל, ואת ישראל ב- AI.  

אנחנו מחפשים מנטורים שיכולים להנחות מקצועית את החניכים במשך כשעה בשבוע בזום. התפקיד כולל הכוונה מקצועית, איפיון בעיית הלמידה, הכוונה באילו ארכיטקטורות ואלגוריתמים להשתמש וכיצד לבחון את המודלים שנלמדו.

עבורך, זוהי הזדמנות להתנדב ולתרום לחברה הישראלית, לחלוק את הידע שלך, להתנסות בהנחייה של פרויקטים בתחום הלמידה, לגדל דור חדש בתחום הלמידה והבינה המלאכותית, ולסייע במקום שבו למומחיות שלך אין תחליף. 

למתעניינים נספק מידע נוסף והנחיות.

מידע מפורט על תוכנית מגשימים סייבר נמצא כאן אתר התוכנית כאן.

אם זה יכול לעניין אותך, השנה או בשנים הבאות, אנא מלא את הטופס בקישור הבא.

פרופ’ גל צ’צ’יק 

פרופ’ שי מנור

דר’ חגי מרון

דר’ גל דלל


DSI Updates – July 2020

(pdf version)

Official Recognition of the DSI 

During the previous semester the University Senate Central Committee (Vaada Merakezet) approved the establishment of the Data Science Institute at Bar-Ilan University. We are now an official Institute! 

DSI 2020 Research Grants

General Research Grants

This was the first year in which the DSI awarded research grants in data science. The response to the call was very impressive, we received a wide range of proposals, with many collaborations, from 23 departments overall! In total, 57 proposals were submitted by 74 researchers, of which 41 were full (for Regular Grants) and 16 small (for small-scale Grants). The competitive review process consisted of a review committee made up of 10 members of the Bar-Ilan faculty from various fields. Each proposal was reviewed by 2-3 referees (some external). At the end of the very competitive process, a total  of NIS 950K was granted to 16 projects (9 large and 7 small) proposed by 36 researchers from 15 different departments, reflecting collaborations between different disciplines. 

The list of the granted research projects is available on the DSI website:  

A call for the next academic year is expected towards the end of 2020.

Corona Research Grants

Due to the reduction in event activity this year, and triggered by the Corona virus pandemic, we have shifted some of this year’s event budget in favor of a call for research grants that aim to help with the challenges the world is facing due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

We have received 10 proposals that were submitted by 11 researchers from 8 departments, of which 5 (by 6 researchers from 3 different departments) were approved,  awarded NIS 98K in total. 

The details of the granted projects are available on the DSI website: 

We are happy to share that we are already seeing initial fruits from this work – The work of Dr. Milana Frenkel-Morgenstern has already resulted in a paper recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association as well as coverage in the mass media.

Vatat Call for Phd and Postdoc scholarships

TASHAF is the second year in which the DSI facilitates the process of selecting Bar-Ilan’s candidates for the VATAT scholarships for outstanding Phd and Postdoc students. This year we received 4 Postdoc scholarship applications from 3 departments, 2 of which were selected and submitted to VATAT. For the Phd scholarships we received applications from 9 candidates from 5 departments, 5 of which were selected and submitted to VATAT.

We are happy to share that this year Bracha Laufer Goldstein from the Faculty of Engineering won the VATAT scholarships for outstanding Postdoc students (she is one of the three selected nationwide by VATAT to receive this scholarship!) The winners of the PhD scholarships for this year were not announced yet. 

Last year, two candidates from Bar-Ilan, Yuval Nirkin from the Faculty of Engineering and Yanai Elazar from the Department of Computer Science, received the VATAT scholarship for outstanding Data Science doctoral students.  

Future Calls 

Competitive Call (VATAT)

Israel’s Planning and Budgeting Committee (Vatat) has recently came out with a 4-year NIS 58 million competitive call for additional funding to the data science centers. The DSI is leading Bar-Ilan’s response (Due Oct 1,  2020) and is assembling the 3-6 projects that will constitute the response. We are hoping to put up a strong response competitive with the best proposals of other universities.

ISF – Data Science and Social Science track

ISF has recently opened a special ISF track for collaboration between Data Science Researchers and Researcher in Social Sciences. We’ll be glad to help with pairing interested researchers and helping with the submissions. 


  • The DSI maintains a cluster of over 10 servers that are available for computing needs of research projects of the DSI members. In addition to the support of Bar-Ilan’s computing center we are using professional support and operation services from a local company. On our agenda is putting up better maintenance and monitoring tools and processes as well as purchasing and integrating additional fast storage, setting up a scheduling system and adding additional compute power.  
  • Support – on a weekly basis we deal with multiple support issues related to the cluster. Yossi Kleiner, from the professional services company, has been helping with many of them. If you have support issues – anything from hardware and software failures to help with running docker containers or optimizing your deep learning code – please send an email to support@dsi.biu.ac.il.
  • We recently assembled an order of 13 (mostly GPU based) servers for 6 faculty members. The servers will be added to the DSI cluster and will be available for use by individual researchers and their labs. Down the road, once we have a proper scheduling system in place, we hope to implement a scavenger queue in which these resources will be available to others when idle, In this way we will effectively enlarge the available compute power for all through sharing of idle resources.  
  • Cloud Computing – Please note that the big cloud computing players have various offers including free cloud credit for academia:
    • Google Cloud – Apply here for research credits
    • Amazon AWS and Oracle Cloud Platform have similar free credit for projects – let us know if interested
    • Microsoft (Azure) – see offer for academia


  • During this past academic year the DSI facilitated and helped opening new data science  courses and programs – 
    • Chemistry and Data Science Programs (Undergraduate and M.Sc.) including a joint program in Chemoinformatics with the University of Strasbourg
    • Programs in Mathematical Finance and Data Science (M.A.), and Brain Science and Data Science (Undergraduate) – awaiting approval
    • Python and Data Science courses for STEM students offered by the Mathematics Department – These courses were attended by more than 150 students from various departments, including Life Sciences, Mathematics, Brain Research Center, Geography and Chemistry.
    • Two new Data Science courses offered by Humanities and Jewish Studies open to other departments 
    • Planning to continue courses and support during upcoming academic year 
  • See our interactive list of Data Science related courses and advise your students to observe it when planning their registration for the next academic year.

DSI Members: Congratulations, Awards and Grants 

Best Paper Awards

  • Congratulations to Prof. Gal Chechik from the Brain Research Center and Dr. Ethan Fetaya from the Faculty of Engineering for winning the Outstanding Article Award at the ICML International Conference in Machine Learning. 

The article “On learning sets of symmetric objects” received the Outstanding Article Award (along with one more article) at the ICML International Conference in Machine Learning. 4990 articles were submitted to the conference, of which 1088 were accepted for publication and two outstanding articles were selected.
The lead author of the study is Haggai Maron from the NVIDIA Research Center in Israel. The other co-authors are Dr. Or Litani from Stanford, and Dr. Ethan Fetaya from the Faculty of Engineering and Prof. Gal Chechik from the Gonda Center for Brain Research at Bar Ilan University.
The article deals with the architecture of deep networks that learn to classify groups of structured objects. The architecture takes into account the structure of the group, as well as the structure of the objects. The article demonstrates what network architectures can capture such structures, and shows the empirical benefits of the method in a wide range of learning problems on groups, images, and graphs. This is a problem in a new field called geometric deep learning. For those interested, Ethan Fetaya gave a Learning Club talk on this work on Sunday 26.07 and a workshop on the subject will be held on August 2.


  • Congratulations to Prof. Sarit Kraus from the Computer Science Department on winning the ACM Athena Lecturer title on behalf of the ACM Association. 
  • Congratulations to Prof. Daniel Levy from the Department of Economics on his appointment as President of the Israel Economic Association.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Yogev Kivity from the Psychology Department for winning the Alon Scholarship. 
  • Congratulations to Dr. Yogev Kivity from the Psychology Department for winning the Taylor & Francis – Society for Psychotherapy Research (SPR) Emerging Young Scholars Award for the third time in a row.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Dana Atzil from the Psychology Department for winning the Outstanding Award for Young Outstanding Researcher (Award Early Career award) from the International Association for the Study of Psychotherapy (Research Psychotherapy for Society).
  • Congratulations to Prof. Noa Aharony from the Department of Information Science on her appointment as Israel’s representative to the COST program on the European Network for Gender Balance in Informatics.

ISF 2020/21 grant winners

  • ISF Personal Research 2020/21 grant winners:
    • Prof. Sarit Kraus, Computer Science Dept.  “Coordination between Defenders in Defensive Games”.
    • Dr. Or Sheffet, Faculty of Engineering. “Privacy Data Analysis: New Models, New Algorithms and New Applications”. 
    • Prof. Yoram Louzoun, Mathematics Dept. “Algorithms for Improving Survival After Bone Marrow Transplant”. 
    • Dr. Burov Stanislav (Stas), Dept. of Physics. “Non-Gaussian Universality of Transformed Medium Transport”. 
    • Dr. Adam Zaidel, Brain Research Center. “Perception of Self-Movement in Rats and Humans: Behavior, Relationship, and the Neural Base.” 
    • Prof. Cyrille Cohen, Faculty of Life Sciences “T Cell Metabolism Engineering to Strengthen the Immune Treatment of Cancer”. 
    • Prof. Shulamit Michaeli, Faculty of Life Sciences, “rRNA Work and the Importance of rRNA Modifications to the Ribosome Function and Unique Translation in both Life Forms”. 
    • Dr. Yaakov Maman, Faculty of Medicine. “Deciphering the Genomic Language Underlying the Specificity of DNA Editing Mechanisms for Regions Encoding Antigen Receptors”.  
      • As well as an Equipment for New Faculty Members grant.
    • Orit Shefi, Faculty of Engineering. “Nerve Cell Engineering at the Single Cell Level”. 
    • Dr. Rose Stamp, Department of English Literature and Linguistics. “Corpus-based Sociolinguistic Research of Sign Languages in Israel”. 
      • As well as an Equipment for New Faculty Members grant – “Linguistic Analysis of Sign Language Using Motion Capture Technology”.
      • Note – this is a follow up funding on a DSI 2020 research grant. 
    • Dr. Jonathan Rubin, Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology. “Acceptance of Latin Descriptions of the Holy Land from the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries”. 
      • Note – this is a follow up funding on a DSI 2020 research grant.
    • Prof. Liat Ayalon, School of Social Work. “Age and Interracial Tension in the Age of Climate Change”. 
    • Prof. Rachel Dekel, School of Social Work. “United Front: A Multi-Systematic Random Psychophysiological Assessment of Targeted Couple Intervention in Post-Traumatic Syndrome”. 
    • Prof. Yuval Feldman, Faculty of Law.  “Behavioral Regulation of Fraud: How, When and Why Using Declarations Can Reduce Cheating and Increase Trust and Regulatory Effectiveness”. 
    • Dr. Elana Zion Golumbic, “Time Attention Fluctuations: Cognitive and Brain Mechanisms at the Basis of Language Processing in a Multilingual Environment”. 
    • Dr. Yogev Kiviti, Department of Psychology. “Fluctuations in Mentalizing Ability and their Contribution to the Difficulties of Regulating Emotions in the Daily Lives of People with Borderline Personality Disorder.” 
      • As well as an Equipment for New Faculty Members grant – “Laboratory for Dyad Observational Psychophysiological Assessment and Outpatient Assessment System”..
      • Note – this is a follow up funding on a DSI 2020 research grant.
  • ISF Grant for Research Workshops
    • Prof. Amihood Amir, Computer Science Department. “Research Innovations in the Field of Algorithms for their Strings”. 
  • ISF Grant for Personal Focus Medicine for 2020/21 
    • Dr. Tomer Kalisky, Faculty of Engineering. “Creating a Model for Tubulopathy Using Patient-Compatible Renal Organs for the Purpose of Customized Renal Therapy – Mitochondrial Pancreatic Syndrome as Proof of Feasibility”. 
    • Prof. Erez Levanon, Faculty of Life Sciences. “A Computational and Experimental Approach to Customized Medicine for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Rare Genetic Diseases”. 
  • ISF Grant for a Research Program Focused on Curbing the CoronaVirus (SARS-CoV-2) for 2020/21 
    • Prof. Gur Yaari, Faculty of Engineering. “Development of a System to Create a Passive Vaccine for the SARS-CoV-2 Virus, Including Future Strains and Future Epidemics”. 

We are sure there are many more notable member awards, grants and achievements that we missed. Please keep us informed with any noteworthy tidbits as we’d love to share with the rest of the community, pass on to biu management and PR and include in our periodical reports. 

Research Spotlights

  • Prof. Sharon Gannot from the Faculty of Engineering has three new interesting data science projects:

Open Positions

  • Student position – suitable for advanced Computer Science or Engineering students. Students will be paid on an hourly basis, for application development as part of a study in the department of Psychology – for details see: 
  • Prof. Sharon Gannot is looking for talented and committed PhD students and/or Post-Doctoral trainees with strong background in statistical signal processing and machine learning. Experience in audio signal processing and high programming skills will be considered as an advantage. See here for more details. 

Once again, if you have any open positions (e.g. student or research assistant positions) you’d like us to help with staffing, please let us know and we’ll be happy to assist. 

The Data Science Institute at Bar-Ilan University.
For further information or to unsubscribe from future updates – dsi@biu.ac.il

Application Development Project for a Study in the Department of Psychology

The Dynamic Processes of Psychopathology and Psychotherapy Lab (https://dplab-biu.wixsite.com/dplab) is looking for a software programmer for a short-term project. The lab is housed in the Department of Psychology at Bar Ilan University and directed by Dr. Yogev Kivity (https://psychology.biu.ac.il/en/node/1684).

The lab is currently designing a study that will make use of Garmin Vivosmart 4 wearable device (https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/605739) to record participants’ continuous physiological arousal (heart rate) as part of a study of emotion regulation in daily life. We would like to develop an application using Garmin’s Application Programming Interface (API: https://developer.garmin.com/health-api/overview/) to extract raw data from the lab’s devices that are not accessible using the device’s existing application. The project will include getting familiar with the device and the API, understanding the lab’s needs (through interaction with the study principle investigator), creating a project description, writing the application along with appropriate documentation, training lab personnel on its use and conducting rudimentary quality assurance checks.
The project is especially suitable for advanced Computer Science or Engineering students. Students will be paid on an hourly basis at a pre-agreed rate. For inquiries and application please contact Dr. Yogev Kivity (yogev.kivity@biu.ac.il) and include your CV and a short description of your interests and relevant experience.