From Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science: “Yale Scientists Take Lead Roles in Two NSF-Funded AI Institutes”

From Yale School of Engineering and Applied Science

The Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science is the engineering school of Yale University. When the first professor of civil engineering was hired in 1852, a Yale School of Engineering was established within the Yale Scientific School, and in 1932 the engineering faculty organized as a separate, constituent school of the university. The school currently offers undergraduate and graduate classes and degrees in electrical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, applied physics, environmental engineering, biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering and materials science.

07/29/2021

Yale researchers are taking a major role in two artificial intelligence (AI) institutes, each funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) (US).

The NSF announced today that it is investing $220 million to establish 11 AI institutes, each receiving $20 million over five years. Yale researchers are taking leadership positions in two of these institutes, one of which will focus on optimization, and another dedicated to edge computing and computer network systems. Eight Yale scientists in total are members of the institutes.

The 11 institutes are focused on AI-based technologies poised to produce a range of advances, from helping older adults lead more independent lives, to improving agriculture and food supply chains, to increasing equity and representation in AI research.

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Nisheeth Vishnoi, co-principal investigator of the TILOS Institute, aims to push the mathematical frontiers of optimization into the next century.

Nisheeth Vishnoi, the A. Bartlett Giamatti Professor of Computer Science, is co-principal investigator for the Institute for Learning-Enabled Optimization at Scale (TILOS). Partially funded by Intel, TILOS aims to “make impossible optimizations possible” by addressing the fundamental challenges of scale and complexity. Led by The University of California-San Diego (US), TILOS partners also include The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)(US); San Diego-based National University (US); The University of Pennsylvania (US); and The University of Texas-Austin (US). Yale professors Daniel Spielman and Amin Karbasi will serve with institute’s “Foundations” team, with Vishnoi as the team’s co-lead.

“The goal for the Foundations team is to push the mathematical frontiers of optimization into the next century,” Vishnoi said. While decades of work in optimization have driven technology in chips, networks, and robotics, the demand on optimization models and methods from these areas has become much higher with today’s technology.

“In the last few years, the scales of these problems have gone berserk,” said Vishnoi. “The size of optimization problems that arise in these application areas have really gone out of bounds for traditional optimization methods. In the last decades, we’ve been independently trying to develop optimization methods in a variety of different settings that tackle this problem of scale, as well as other issues – uncertainties associated with data, dynamic learning environments, and distributed computational frameworks.”

Further, he mentions that traditional optimization methods typically work in settings where the domain is flat. In modern settings, the domain can often be curved. “You are no longer working in the normal space, but in a complicated geometry – so you need new methods and new models.”

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LinZhong, co-principal investigator of the Athena Institute, will focus his efforts on developing and perfecting edge computing.

Lin Zhong, professor of computer science, is co-principal investigator for the AI Institute for Edge Computing Leveraging Next-generation Networks (also known as the Athena Institute). Yale professors Leandros Tassiulas, Abhishek Bhattacharjee, Anurag Khandelwal, and Wenjun Hu are also institute members. With Duke University (US) as the lead institution, other partners are Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), Princeton University (US), University of Wisconsin (US), University of Michigan (US); and North Carolina A&T State University (US). It is partially funded by the Department of Homeland Security (US).

The Athena Institute will focus on using and advancing AI technologies to develop edge computing – that is computing done at or near the source of the data, rather than relying on a distant data center – while keeping complexity and costs under control. Essentially, it would bring cloud computing closer to users. Zhong said doing so could have significant benefits, such as shorter latency and higher efficiency in cloud computing, which empowers novel services such as virtual reality, autonomous vehicles and drones. And by making the necessary technology more accessible, it potentially creates a more level playing field for start-up companies.

“We think this should transform the national infrastructure for cloud computing and mobile networking,” said Zhong, the lead researcher for Yale. “But it’s not easy – there are many challenges and the Athena Institute is about tackling those challenges and tapping into the power of AI.”

Zhong noted that the Athena Institute, as well as many other announced today, treat AI as a tool that is both powerful and in need of development for significant advancement in numerous fields, ranging from agriculture, to chemistry to physics.

“AI has great potential to solve numerous real-world problems,” Zhong said. “For us, it’s about how AI could help transform computer and network systems – those we use every day – and how solving problems from computer and network systems can help advance AI.”

NSF officials noted that the AI institutes are composed of researchers from 37 states, and that they are looking to expand into all 50 states.

“These institutes are hubs for academia, industry and government to accelerate discovery and innovation in AI,” National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said. “Inspiring talent and ideas everywhere in this important area will lead to new capabilities that improve our lives from medicine to entertainment to transportation and cybersecurity and position us in the vanguard of competitiveness and prosperity.”

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Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 as the Collegiate School, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The Collegiate School was renamed Yale College in 1718 to honor the school’s largest private benefactor for the first century of its existence, Elihu Yale. Yale University is consistently ranked as one of the top universities and is considered one of the most prestigious in the nation.

Chartered by Connecticut Colony, the Collegiate School was established in 1701 by clergy to educate Congregational ministers before moving to New Haven in 1716. Originally restricted to theology and sacred languages, the curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences by the time of the American Revolution. In the 19th century, the college expanded into graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first PhD in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887. Yale’s faculty and student populations grew after 1890 with rapid expansion of the physical campus and scientific research.

Yale is organized into fourteen constituent schools: the original undergraduate college, the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and twelve professional schools. While the university is governed by the Yale Corporation, each school’s faculty oversees its curriculum and degree programs. In addition to a central campus in downtown New Haven, the university owns athletic facilities in western New Haven, a campus in West Haven, Connecticut, and forests and nature preserves throughout New England. As of June 2020, the university’s endowment was valued at $31.1 billion, the second largest of any educational institution. The Yale University Library, serving all constituent schools, holds more than 15 million volumes and is the third-largest academic library in the United States. Students compete in intercollegiate sports as the Yale Bulldogs in the NCAA Division I – Ivy League.

As of October 2020, 65 Nobel laureates, five Fields Medalists, four Abel Prize laureates, and three Turing award winners have been affiliated with Yale University. In addition, Yale has graduated many notable alumni, including five U.S. Presidents, 19 U.S. Supreme Court Justices, 31 living billionaires, and many heads of state. Hundreds of members of Congress and many U.S. diplomats, 78 MacArthur Fellows, 252 Rhodes Scholars, 123 Marshall Scholars, and nine Mitchell Scholars have been affiliated with the university.

Research

Yale is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) (US) and is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. According to the National Science Foundation (US), Yale spent $990 million on research and development in 2018, ranking it 15th in the nation.

Yale’s faculty include 61 members of the National Academy of Sciences (US), 7 members of the National Academy of Engineering (US) and 49 members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (US). The college is, after normalization for institution size, the tenth-largest baccalaureate source of doctoral degree recipients in the United States, and the largest such source within the Ivy League.

Yale’s English and Comparative Literature departments were part of the New Criticism movement. Of the New Critics, Robert Penn Warren, W.K. Wimsatt, and Cleanth Brooks were all Yale faculty. Later, the Yale Comparative literature department became a center of American deconstruction. Jacques Derrida, the father of deconstruction, taught at the Department of Comparative Literature from the late seventies to mid-1980s. Several other Yale faculty members were also associated with deconstruction, forming the so-called “Yale School”. These included Paul de Man who taught in the Departments of Comparative Literature and French, J. Hillis Miller, Geoffrey Hartman (both taught in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature), and Harold Bloom (English), whose theoretical position was always somewhat specific, and who ultimately took a very different path from the rest of this group. Yale’s history department has also originated important intellectual trends. Historians C. Vann Woodward and David Brion Davis are credited with beginning in the 1960s and 1970s an important stream of southern historians; likewise, David Montgomery, a labor historian, advised many of the current generation of labor historians in the country. Yale’s Music School and Department fostered the growth of Music Theory in the latter half of the 20th century. The Journal of Music Theory was founded there in 1957; Allen Forte and David Lewin were influential teachers and scholars.

In addition to eminent faculty members, Yale research relies heavily on the presence of roughly 1200 Postdocs from various national and international origin working in the multiple laboratories in the sciences, social sciences, humanities, and professional schools of the university. The university progressively recognized this working force with the recent creation of the Office for Postdoctoral Affairs and the Yale Postdoctoral Association.

Notable alumni

Over its history, Yale has produced many distinguished alumni in a variety of fields, ranging from the public to private sector. According to 2020 data, around 71% of undergraduates join the workforce, while the next largest majority of 16.6% go on to attend graduate or professional schools. Yale graduates have been recipients of 252 Rhodes Scholarships, 123 Marshall Scholarships, 67 Truman Scholarships, 21 Churchill Scholarships, and 9 Mitchell Scholarships. The university is also the second largest producer of Fulbright Scholars, with a total of 1,199 in its history and has produced 89 MacArthur Fellows. The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs ranked Yale fifth among research institutions producing the most 2020–2021 Fulbright Scholars. Additionally, 31 living billionaires are Yale alumni.

At Yale, one of the most popular undergraduate majors among Juniors and Seniors is political science, with many students going on to serve careers in government and politics. Former presidents who attended Yale for undergrad include William Howard Taft, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush while former presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton attended Yale Law School. Former vice-president and influential antebellum era politician John C. Calhoun also graduated from Yale. Former world leaders include Italian prime minister Mario Monti, Turkish prime minister Tansu Çiller, Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo, German president Karl Carstens, Philippine president José Paciano Laurel, Latvian president Valdis Zatlers, Taiwanese premier Jiang Yi-huah, and Malawian president Peter Mutharika, among others. Prominent royals who graduated are Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden, and Olympia Bonaparte, Princess Napoléon.

Yale alumni have had considerable presence in U.S. government in all three branches. On the U.S. Supreme Court, 19 justices have been Yale alumni, including current Associate Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Brett Kavanaugh. Numerous Yale alumni have been U.S. Senators, including current Senators Michael Bennet, Richard Blumenthal, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Chris Coons, Amy Klobuchar, Ben Sasse, and Sheldon Whitehouse. Current and former cabinet members include Secretaries of State John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Cyrus Vance, and Dean Acheson; U.S. Secretaries of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott, Robert Rubin, Nicholas F. Brady, Steven Mnuchin, and Janet Yellen; U.S. Attorneys General Nicholas Katzenbach, John Ashcroft, and Edward H. Levi; and many others. Peace Corps founder and American diplomat Sargent Shriver and public official and urban planner Robert Moses are Yale alumni.

Yale has produced numerous award-winning authors and influential writers, like Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Sinclair Lewis and Pulitzer Prize winners Stephen Vincent Benét, Thornton Wilder, Doug Wright, and David McCullough. Academy Award winning actors, actresses, and directors include Jodie Foster, Paul Newman, Meryl Streep, Elia Kazan, George Roy Hill, Lupita Nyong’o, Oliver Stone, and Frances McDormand. Alumni from Yale have also made notable contributions to both music and the arts. Leading American composer from the 20th century Charles Ives, Broadway composer Cole Porter, Grammy award winner David Lang, and award-winning jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer all hail from Yale. Hugo Boss Prize winner Matthew Barney, famed American sculptor Richard Serra, President Barack Obama presidential portrait painter Kehinde Wiley, MacArthur Fellow and contemporary artist Sarah Sze, Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist Garry Trudeau, and National Medal of Arts photorealist painter Chuck Close all graduated from Yale. Additional alumni include architect and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Maya Lin, Pritzker Prize winner Norman Foster, and Gateway Arch designer Eero Saarinen. Journalists and pundits include Dick Cavett, Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, William F. Buckley, Jr., and Fareed Zakaria.

In business, Yale has had numerous alumni and former students go on to become founders of influential business, like William Boeing (Boeing, United Airlines), Briton Hadden and Henry Luce (Time Magazine), Stephen A. Schwarzman (Blackstone Group), Frederick W. Smith (FedEx), Juan Trippe (Pan Am), Harold Stanley (Morgan Stanley), Bing Gordon (Electronic Arts), and Ben Silbermann (Pinterest). Other business people from Yale include former chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings Edward Lampert, former Time Warner president Jeffrey Bewkes, former PepsiCo chairperson and CEO Indra Nooyi, sports agent Donald Dell, and investor/philanthropist Sir John Templeton,

Yale alumni distinguished in academia include literary critic and historian Henry Louis Gates, economists Irving Fischer, Mahbub ul Haq, and Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman; Nobel Prize in Physics laureates Ernest Lawrence and Murray Gell-Mann; Fields Medalist John G. Thompson; Human Genome Project leader and National Institutes of Health (US) director Francis S. Collins; brain surgery pioneer Harvey Cushing; pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper; influential mathematician and chemist Josiah Willard Gibbs; National Women’s Hall of Fame inductee and biochemist Florence B. Seibert; Turing Award recipient Ron Rivest; inventors Samuel F.B. Morse and Eli Whitney; Nobel Prize in Chemistry laureate John B. Goodenough; lexicographer Noah Webster; and theologians Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold Niebuhr.

In the sporting arena, Yale alumni include baseball players Ron Darling and Craig Breslow and baseball executives Theo Epstein and George Weiss; football players Calvin Hill, Gary Fenick, Amos Alonzo Stagg, and “the Father of American Football” Walter Camp; ice hockey players Chris Higgins and Olympian Helen Resor; Olympic figure skaters Sarah Hughes and Nathan Chen; nine-time U.S. Squash men’s champion Julian Illingworth; Olympic swimmer Don Schollander; Olympic rowers Josh West and Rusty Wailes; Olympic sailor Stuart McNay; Olympic runner Frank Shorter; and others.