Asu Ozdaglar, the Joseph F. and Nancy P. Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, has been named the new head of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), effective Jan. 1, 2018. She has been the interim head of the department since July 1, 2017, when former head Anantha Chandraksan was named dean of the School of Engineering.
“Professor Ozdaglar is an inspiring researcher and has emerged as a true leader in the areas of optimization theory and algorithms, game theory, and networks,” Chandrakasan says. “Her vision and dedication as an educator have been equally impressive. She is both a tireless advocate and coach for her students, and she has been a strong advocate for educational innovation in EECS.”
A former associate department head in EECS, director of the Laboratory for Information Decision Systems, and associate director of the Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, Ozdaglar has made fundamental contributions to optimization theory, economic and social networked systems, and game theory. Her research in optimization ranges from convex analysis and duality to distributed methods for large-scale systems and optimization algorithms for machine learning. Her work on game theory focuses on adaptive dynamics in networks and large games, and issues of new equilibrium concepts and computation of equilibria. Her research has integrated analysis of social and economic interactions within the study of networks and spans many dimensions of these areas, including the analysis of learning and communication, diffusion and information propagation, influence in social networks, and cascades and systemic risk in economic and financial systems.
Ozdaglar’s educational contributions to MIT are equally substantial. She has developed a range of graduate and undergraduate courses, including a graduate-level game theory subject and an undergraduate course on networks that is jointly listed with the Department of Economics. She played a leading role (with Costis Daskalakis and colleagues in course 14) in launching a new undergraduate major in 6-14: Computer Science, Economics and Data Science. She also served as technical program co-chair of EECS’s Rising Stars program in 2015.
Ozdaglar is a past recipient of a Microsoft fellowship, the MIT Graduate Student Council Teaching award, the NSF Career award, the 2008 Donald P. Eckman award of the American Automatic Control Council, and the Class of 1943 Career Development Chair. She was the inaugural Steven and Renee Finn Innovation Fellow, and won the 2014 Spira teaching award. She served on the Board of Governors of the Control System Society in 2010 and was an associate editor for IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control. She is the inaugural area co-editor for a new area for the journal Operations Research, entitled “Games, Information and Networks,” and she is the co-author of Convex Analysis and Optimization (Athena Scientific, 2003).
Ozdaglar received her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Middle East Technical University, in Ankara, Turkey, in 1996, and SM and PhD degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from MIT in 1998 and 2003.
The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science is the largest academic unit at MIT. It currently enrolls 1,297 undergraduate majors and 916 graduate students. In 2016-17, the department awarded 477 undergraduate, 260 master’s, and 95 doctoral degrees. EECS’s 119 faculty members conduct their research in four affiliated labs: the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS), the Microsystems Technology Laboratories (MTL), and the Research Laboratory of Electronics (RLE).