Professor Awarded NSF Grant to Study Strategic Decision Making
February 28, 2013 | UNIVERSITY COMMUNICATIONS
Christopher Kiekintveld, Ph.D., assistant professor of computer science at The University of Texas at El Paso, has been awarded a five-year grant of $488,288 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study ways to improve the robustness of decision-making in the face of challenging problems.
Potential applications for the research include guiding security and defense strategies for such institutions as the Federal Air Marshals Service and the U.S. Border Patrol. Other applications include trading strategies in auctions, and improving security in computer networks.
"One of the big application areas we have been looking at over the last three or four years is using game models to help understand how to allocate and schedule security resources in an efficient way," Kiekintveld said. "One of our primary techniques is the use of computational game theory, which is a mathematical way of representing decision-making problems.
"Games like chess are an example of this," he explained. "You are making a choice between different strategies and the key is that your choice depends on what your opponent, or the other player, is likely to do. So we have to predict what decisions they are likely to make and choose a strategy based on that prediction. We can model all that mathematically, and use computers to analyze the decisions."
The grant is part of the NSF's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program, which offers prestigious awards to junior faculty members for work that aims to integrate education and research.
Both graduate and undergraduate students will take part in the research by designing algorithms and "agents" to play in tournaments. These agents will be used to help evaluate the robustness of different strategic reasoning methods.
Kiekintveld has been at UTEP since 2010. He completed a doctoral degree in computer science and engineering at the University of Michigan and postdoctoral work at the University of Southern California.