Constantinos Daskalakis has won the 2008 Doctoral Dissertation Award from ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) for his work on behavior in complex networks of interacting individuals, such as those enabled and created by the Internet. His dissertation, entitled "The Complexity of Nash Equilibria," provides a novel, algorithmic perspective on Game Theory and the concept of the Nash equilibrium. Daskalakis, who was nominated by the University of California, Berkeley, is a postdoctoral researcher at Microsoft Research New England. He will receive the Doctoral Dissertation Award and its $20,000 prize at the annual ACM Awards Banquet on June 27, in San Diego, CA. Financial sponsorship of this award is provided by Google Inc.
Daskalakis' dissertation examines whether rational, self-interested individuals can arrive, through their interactions, at a state where no single one of them would be better off switching strategies unless others did so as well. Such a state is called a Nash equilibrium, in honor of John Nash, who defined it, and is traditionally used in Game Theory as a rigorous way of predicting the behavior of people in conflict situations. Daskalakis showed that in complex systems the Nash equilibrium is computationally unachievable in some cases. This result answers an algorithmic question that has been open since John Nash's definition of the concept in the 1950s. It also suggests that the Nash equilibrium may not be an accurate prediction of behavior in all situations. Daskalakis' research emphasizes the need for new, computationally meaningful methods for modeling strategic behavior in complex systems such as those encountered in financial markets, online systems, and social networks.
A graduate of the National Technical University of Athens with a degree in electrical and computer engineering, Daskalakis received his Ph.D. degree in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley. Beginning in July, he will be an assistant professor in the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a member of MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
Two researchers will share an Honorable Mention for the 2008 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, which carries a $10,000 prize, with financial sponsorship provided by Google.
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