EECS faculty member wins ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award

Professor Constantinos Daskalakis

EECS and CSAIL Staff

EECS Professor Constantinos (“Costis”) Daskalakis has won the 2019 Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

Announced today, the prize is awarded annually to a computer scientist under the age of 35 on the basis of a single recent major technical or service contribution. Daskalakis was honored for “proving that the computational complexity of finding Nash equilibria is the same as that of finding Brouwer fixed points, a proof since extended to several other equilibrium notion,” the ACM noted. “By challenging equilibrium theory, his work has triggered an ongoing reshaping of our understanding of strategic behavior, showing that computation must play an essential role in the foundations of game theory and economics.”

His research, a fusion of computer science, economics and game theory, focuses in part on how strategic behavior complicates large-scale technological systems. Many researchers use theories of equilibrium to solve these problems, specifically the Nash equilibrium, which is when all (theoretical) players do the best they can given other players’ choices so that no players can benefit from unilaterally changing their choices. However, Nash’s equilibrium existence proof uses something called Brouwer’s fixed-point theorem, where no efficient algorithm is known. Alongside Paul Goldberg and Christos Papadimitriou, Daskalakis proved that the computational complexity of finding Nash equilibria is the same as that of finding Brouwer fixed points, a proof since extended to several other equilibrium notions.

Daskalakis is a principal investigator in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and is affiliated with MIT’s Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (LIDS) and Operations Research Center (ORC).

In 2018, Daskalakis received the Rolf Nevanlinna Prize, a prestigious mathematics award presented only once every four years by the International Conference of Mathematicians. Along with Goldberg and Papadimitriou, he also received the Kalai Game Theory and Computer Science Prize and the Outstanding Paper Prize from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) for work on the Nash equilibrium. He has also received a Simons Investigator Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, a Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship, a Google Faculty Research Award, a Research and Development Award from the Vatican Giuseppe Sciacca Foundation, MIT’s Ruth and Joel Spira Award for Excellence in Teaching, the EECS Frank Quick Faculty Research Innovation Fellowship, ACM’s Doctoral Dissertation Award, and several best-paper awards.

A native of Greece, Daskalakis received an undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and a PhD in electrical engineering and computer sciences from the University of California at Berkeley.

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