Pablo Parrilo is the recipient of the 2011 Antonio Ruberti Outstanding Young Researcher Award of the IEEE Control Systems Society. Parrilo, the Finmeccanica Career Development Professor of Engineering in the EECS Department and Associate Director of the Laboratory for Infomation and Decision Systems, LIDS, is cited for fundamental contributions to optimization theory and its applications.
The Ruberti Outstanding Young Researcher Award is to recognize distinguished cutting-edge contributions by a young researcher to the theory or application of systems and control. The awards ceremony took place at the 50th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control (Orlando, FL), in December 2011.
Parrilo has distinguished himself in the area of optimization through his application of the sums of squares technique for fitting difficult data from real world, non-linear situations into more solvable linear systems. His work has been applied within MIT and out, as reported by the MIT News Office in a January 29, 2010 article: "Nonlinear thinker: With techniques for translating complicated equations into ‘sums of squares,’ Pablo Parrilo helps make sense of previously insoluble problems."
Examples noted in that article include CSAIL principal investigator and EECS faculty member Rus Tedrake's use of Parrilo’s techniques to create novel control systems for walking and flying robots. Also major engineering companies have used them in the design of aircraft and engines. Quantum information theorists have used them to describe the mysterious property known as entanglement — in which the states of subatomic particles become dependent on each other — and biologists have used them to make sense of the complicated chemical signaling pathways found in cells.
Pablo Parrilo's research interests include optimization methods for engineering applications, control and identification of uncertain complex systems, robustness analysis and synthesis, and the development and application of computational tools based on convex optimization and algorithmic algebra to practically relevant engineering problems.
Prof. Parrilo has been honored with several other distinctions, including a Finmeccanica Career Development Chair, the Donald P. Eckman Award of the American Automatic Control Council, and the SIAM Activity Group on Control and Systems Theory (SIAG/CST) Prize.
Since receiving his PhD, Pablo Parrilo has held visiting appointments at the University of California at Santa Barbara (physics), the Lund Institute of Technology (automatic control), and UC Berkeley (mathematics). Before coming to MIT, he was an assistant professor at the Automatic Control Laboratory of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Foundations of Computational Mathematics (FoCM) society, is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Automatic Control, and is a member of the Editorial Board of the MPS/SIAM Book Series on Optimization.