Professor Earns NSF CAREER Award for Work in Algorithms

Assistant Professor Jan van den Brand was recently awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award for his groundbreaking work developing more efficient algorithms.

Van den Brand’s research focuses on dynamic algorithms and optimization algorithms.

Optimization algorithms support decision-making functionality in airline scheduling, automotive manufacturing, financial services, and other business processes.

Dynamic algorithms solve dynamic problems such as traffic congestion. When a GPS navigation app finds a route affected by construction or traffic congestion, it uses dynamic algorithms to quickly find new routes for the user.

“My research comes up with new techniques for how computers can maintain solutions for a problem that changes over time,” he said.

His proposal focuses on dynamic algorithms and linear programs, a type of optimization algorithm, and the relation between the two.

Although studied extensively, researchers know little about dynamic linear programs from a theoretical perspective. Van den Brand’s proposal explores the synergy between dynamic and optimization algorithms to build a theory for dynamic optimization problems.

Through this, van den Brand hopes to develop more general algorithm techniques that researchers can apply to many problems.

“It’s foundational research constructing tools and techniques for other engineers or scientists to solve their problems more efficiently,” van den Brand said.

As part of his proposal, he is launching a summer school program. The program will be a platform to introduce Ph.D. students to dynamic and optimization algorithms. Van den Brand says he hopes to introduce a new generation of students to theoretical computer science.

“I'm excited about the award and the new projects that it will fund. I want to thank NSF for the award and my colleagues for helpful advice during the proposal process,” van den Brand said.