Amir Ali Ahmad Organized Princeton Day of Optimization


Amir Ali Ahmad Organized Princeton Day of Optimization on Data Science and Machine Learning

Amir Ali Ahmadi, an MIT LIDS alum and assistant professor of operations research and financial engineering (ORFE) at Princeton, organized a day-long conference called the Princeton Day of Optimization, on Friday, September 28, 2018. An audience of about 350 researchers and students from more than 50 academic and industrial institutions heard six speakers from across the fields of machine learning (a branch of artificial intelligence), optimization (maximizing the efficiency of systems) and control (the theory underlying computer control of systems).

Although the details may involve advanced mathematics, the topics addressed at the conference are increasingly prevalent in people’s lives. With computers controlling more and more of the devices we interact with every day, the need for more efficient algorithms and better ways for computers to adapt by using machine learning and prior “experience” is greater than ever.

A good example of the convergence of optimization, control and machine learning is the driverless car. One goal of such a vehicle would be to minimize energy usage (an optimization problem), using feedback loops to accelerate and decelerate depending on conditions (a control problem). Because of the large number of situations likely to be encountered by a driverless car, it is impossible to anticipate and write rules for them all — which is where machine learning becomes a critical component. Driverless cars also point to some of the ethical issues involved in computer-controlled devices. “What if a driverless car kills someone,” asked Dimitris Bertsimas, Boeing Professor of Operations Research at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, in his presentation. “Who is at fault? And can we as a society tolerate not understanding who is at fault?”

In addition to the six main presentations, 67 posters from 22 institutions were presented at a midday poster session in Taylor Commons at Frick Laboratory — evidence of strong growth in the field. The event, hosted by ORFE and co-sponsored by CSML was supported by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, and the National Science Foundation.


Princeton Day of Optimization on September 28, 2018, speakers included, from left: Dmitris Bertsimas (MIT), Elad Hazan (Princeton), Amir Ali Ahmad (Princeton), Katya Scheinberg (Lehigh), Ben Recht (UC-Berkeley) and Pablo Parrilo (MIT) -- Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

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