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Asu Ozdaglar named associate department head of EECS

Expert in optimization theory to join the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science leadership.
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Asu Ozdaglar, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering
Asu Ozdaglar, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering
Photo: Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems

Asu Ozdaglar, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering, has been appointed as associate head of the MIT Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), effective January 1, 2017. Ozdaglar succeeds David Perreault, professor of electrical engineering, who has served in the role since November 2013.

"Asu is a leader in the field of optimization theory, and is a dedicated teacher and mentor," said Anantha Chandrakasan, EECS department head and the Vannevar Bush Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. "The department will benefit greatly from her creativity, dedication, and interdisciplinary approach."

Ozdaglar is best known for her contributions in the areas of optimization theory, economic and social networked systems, and game theory. She has made several key contributions to optimization theory, ranging from convex analysis and duality to distributed and incremental algorithms for large scale systems and data processing. She co-authored the book entitled “Convex Analysis and Optimization” with Dimitri Bertsekas and Angelia Nedich.

Ozdaglar has focused a large part of her research on integrating analysis of social and economic interactions into the study of networks. Her work spans many dimensions of this area, including analysis of learning and communication, diffusion and information propagation, influence in social networks, and study of cascades and systemic risk in economic and financial systems. She continues to make key contributions to game theory, including learning dynamics and computation of Nash equilibria.

She has also organized numerous conferences and sessions on game theory, networks, and distributed optimization. Ozdaglar has been recognized by these communities as a leader, and has won several key awards, including the prestigious Donald P. Eckman Award of the American Automatic Control Council. She was also recognized at MIT with the award of the inaugural Steven and Renee Finn Faculty Research Innovation Fellowship.

Ozdaglar’s numerous educational contributions to the MIT community include the development of several graduate and undergraduate courses. She developed a graduate-level game theory subject, 6.254 (Game Theory with Engineering Applications), and co-developed 6.207 (Networks), an undergraduate course on networks that is jointly listed with the Department of Economics. For her educational contributions, she was honored with the MIT Graduate Student Council's Teaching Award for the School of Engineering in 2004.

In October 2014, Ozdaglar became director of the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) and the associate director of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society (IDSS). She is playing a critical leadership role in shaping the future of IDSS. Ozdaglar was also a technical program co-chair of the 2015 Rising Stars program in EECS.

Perreault will continue to serve as associate department head through December. Perreault spearheaded many efforts aimed at improving the undergraduate curriculum during his term in the role, including streamlining the 6/8 double major, helping with the new curriculum, organizing trips for EE students to industry (EExplore), and ongoing efforts to revitalize the electrical engineering undergraduate curriculum.

“I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Dave and express my appreciation for his ongoing service,” Chandrakasan said. “I know we will continue to benefit from his extraordinary leadership and initiative as associate department head.”

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