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Management Science and Engineering
February 2024 Newsletter
2024 is well underway
The new year is off to a strong start at MS&E, with events like our Virtual Reunion held January 27, as well as courses, research, and the planning of new things to come. This newsletter focuses on the latest research and insights from the department, with a particular emphasis on AI.
In this issue - research & insights:
 • Artificial intelligence
 • Virtual reunion
 • The latest MS&E research

Explore articles, podcasts, and more in this issue of the MS&E Newsletter.
Our lead story: MS&E and AI
incoming PhD students
Left to right: Ben Van Roy, Madeleine Udell, Markus Pelger, Kay Giesecke | Photos courtesy of the faculty
As artificial intelligence continues to dominate the news, we're highlighting the ways MS&E influences AI. Some of our research affects the inner workings of AI algorithms, for example, while other projects seek to make use of AI in novel ways. Below are excerpts from four stories of MS&E faculty whose research interacts with AI:

Teaching AI to learn faster and better
While it seems like ChatGPT and "AI-powered everything" happened overnight, it's actually the culmination of decades of work, according to Professor Ben Van Roy. "I've been telling people for some time that this is coming. A lot of them seemed to think I was making this up," he said.

Read more about Professor Van Roy's work in reinforcement learning, as well as his predictions for the future of AI.

Helping ordinary people solve extraordinary problems
For decades, MS&E has been at the forefront of operations research, creating optimization models to aid excellent decision-making in an endless stream of complex situations. The problem is, most people in practice don't have the technical know-how or the math skills to make use of such models. Enter Professor Madeleine Udell, who is making automated optimization modeling tools to help non-experts determine the best set of choices for complicated situations.

Learn more about how Professor Udell is making AI more accessible.

Making better financial investments
Professor Markus Pelger is working to perfect machine learning techniques to help finance professionals make better investments. His latest research deals with the challenges of many variables and relatively small datasets by applying a novel "no arbitrage" constraint.

Learn more about Professor Pelger's innovations.

Improving transparency of AI-powered decisions
According to Professor Kay Giesecke, AI can be a tool for better decision-making in a variety of industries, but there's an elephant in the room: trust. "People often prefer more transparent but inferior algorithms that have been around for decades. They're using them because they understand them," he said.

Read more about how Professor Giesecke is developing trust in AI systems.
  • The values built into social media algorithms are highly individualized. However, a group of Stanford researchers, including Professor Johan Ugander, says we could reshape our feeds to benefit society.
portrait photos of faculty, students, and alums
Alums joined MS&E faculty for a virtual reunion event on January 27 | Images by Jim Fabry and Tim Keely
Thank you to all who attended the MS&E Virtual Reunion 2024 event! We hope you enjoyed hearing about the latest research from our faculty, and getting to chat with them and one another afterward. Learn more about the faculty talks.
portrait photos of faculty, students, and alums
Master’s students Natalie Milan and Faith Zehfuss hold a feedback session with participants during an entrepreneurship program they developed | Image courtesy of the King Center on Global Development

Engineering for good

Organizational friction

If you attended our Virtual Reunion event, you know Professor Emeritus Bob Sutton spent the last seven years learning about organizational friction. The results of that research appear in detail in his recently released book, The Friction Project, and a few insights from that body of work appear below:
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