UW Today has published a great article on newly-minted Packard Fellow Thomas Rothvoss, a professor in UW CSE’s Theory group and the UW Department of Mathematics. In it, Rothvoss explains how his research at the intersection of computer science and mathematics aids in the design of more efficient algorithms for analyzing complex datasets — and how the fellowship will aid him in advancing this research working alongside his students.
From the article:
“‘This is really a problem of optimization,’ said Rothvoss. ‘Let’s say you have a lot of objects of different weights and sizes — and boxes to pack them in. You want to optimize the packing process, grouping the objects into the smallest number of boxes as possible as quickly as possible.’
“It could be possible to write an algorithm to perform this calculation and produce a plan for packing the objects in boxes, Rothvoss said. But, the scenario is so complex that the algorithm would be sluggish and inefficient.
“‘A better approach is to recognize these limitations and come up with algorithms that approximate an ideal answer,’ said Rothvoss. ‘Find an efficient algorithm that gets you close to that optimum. That’s my specialty.'”
The Packard Fellowship is designed to enable early-career researchers like Rothvoss to focus on his research and to take risks. From the sounds of it, he plans to take full advantage of the freedom that comes with the award.
“‘Basically, this means for the next five years that I can spend less time writing grants and more time doing research with my students,’ said Rothvoss. ‘And that is wonderful news.'”
Congratulations again to Thomas on this fantastic achievement!