Guide to Graduate Study in Area I: Introduction
Welcome to Area I
This guide is primarily written for entering graduate students who have come from undergraduate universities other than MIT, and who intend eventually to obtain a PhD at MIT. It is intended as a planning guide for the first two years, which is the normal period for obtaining the masters degree and completing the departmental Technical Qualifying Exam (TQE).
For administrative convenience, the faculty and graduate students in the department are divided up into six primary research "areas" according to their preferences. And although the area definitions are somewhat arbitrary—and the boundaries between them often quite artificial—many of these areas have a long history and well-established culture. Area I is certainly no exception, and as a result, its boundaries are deliberately fuzzy and there is considerable overlap and many connections with other areas.
Lying at the critical interface between computation and the physical world, Area I bridges the more traditionally computer science centric and more traditionally electrical engineering centric areas of the department. The research ranges from fundamental system, information, and network science, through to engineering principles and design for a host of important contemporary and emerging applications. Examples include a broad spectrum of problems of communication and coding, systems theory and control, optimization, statistical inference and decision theory, and signal processing, as well as the shared methodological underpinnings of—and increasingly the interactions between—these different fields. Research topics range from fundamental principles to application, from analysis to synthesis, and from theory to experiment and simulation. Thesis research can involve different combinations of the above, depending on the student's interests and the nature of the problem.
In general, Area I draws graduate students from a broad range of backgrounds, and with a wide variety of objectives for graduate study. It is the culture of MIT to encourage students to take the initiative to tailor their graduate program accordingly.
Greg Wornell, Area I chair