Two computer scientists were among the 18 early-career academics named Fellows on Tuesday by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, each of whom will receive $875,000 over five years to pursue their research.
The Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering are among the nation's largest nongovernmental fellowships, designed to allow maximum flexibility in how the funding is used.
The computer scientists among the recipients of the 2018 Packard Fellowships in Science and Engineering are:
Keenan Crane, an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department of Carnegie Mellon University. The Packard organization said that Crane "explores how the shapes and motions we observe in nature can be faithfully expressed in a language that is completely finite and discrete, and can hence be understood by a computer. His exploration of this question provides both new foundations for computation, as well as new ways to turn digital designs into physical, shape-shifting matter."
Mahdi Soltanolkotabi, an assistant professor in the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering, of the University of Southern California. Said the Packard organization, "Despite wide empirical success, many of the most commonly used learning algorithms lack a clear mathematical foundation and often rely on poorly understood and error-prone heuristics. Soltanolkotabi's research aims to develop a theoretical foundation for design and analysis of reliable learning algorithms, with applications spanning high-resolution imaging to artificial intelligence."
Each year, the Foundation invites 50 universities to nominate two faculty members for consideration. The Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel, a group of 12 internationally recognized scientists and engineers, evaluates the nominations and recommends Fellows for approval by the Packard Foundation Board of Trustees. Packard Fellows must be faculty members who are eligible to serve as principal investigators on research in the natural and physical sciences or engineering, and must be within the first three years of their faculty careers. Disciplines that are considered include physics, chemistry, mathematics, biology, astronomy, computer science, earth science, ocean science, and all branches of engineering.
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