Areas of Focus
Two faculty members from the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering received CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF), recognizing early-career contributions in both research and education. Assistant Professors He Wang and Siva Theja Maguluri received the award, the most prestigious of its kind awarded by the NSF, which carries a five-year term.
In addition to $500,000 in funding, which will help support the faculty member as well as their team of Ph.D. students, Wang said it provided recognition and validation for their respective research agendas.
“It’s great because it helps fund our work and will provide opportunities to support our students in this continued research,” he said. “But it also helps us to build connections with industry partners, who see the importance of our work, and allow us to implement some of it into the real world.”
Wang’s research focuses on supply chain and logistics in transportation. This particular award will fund research that seeks to design digital marketplaces for the freight industry. Describing it as a rideshare, like Uber, for trucking, Wang said that the goal of the research is to design online digital marketplaces that help truckers connect with shippers, eliminating a brokerage process plagued by inefficiency that can cost drivers both time and money.
“The idea here is to improve supply chain efficiencies and also the earning reliability of these truck drivers,” he said.
For an industry that is among the largest in the country, and indeed the most popular in more than half the country’s states, the research could have far-reaching implications.
Maguluri’s research, meanwhile, addresses optimization challenges in reinforcement learning and cloud computing, both of which are key areas of progress in the ongoing artificial intelligence revolution. The revolution is powered by the development of novel algorithms and breakthroughs in cloud computing infrastructure that can collect, store, and process large amounts of data.
“Even though neural networks were known about 50 years ago, AI breakthroughs only happened in the last 15 years,” Maguluri said. “This is because computers weren’t powerful enough earlier, and it was hard to get access to large computing power.”
Now, AI researchers can utilize massive data centers run by companies like Amazon, Microsoft, or Google.
Despite the progress, however, there are tradeoffs that affect optimal performance, and theory often lags behind practice. With this award, Maguluri and his lab will pursue studies in both reinforcement learning and cloud computing to develop optimal scheduling algorithms for cloud computing data centers that make both more efficient and, thus, further advancement in the field.
To read more about Wang’s and Maguluri’s research, follow the links below: