A new faculty to strengthen USC’s strength in optimization and quantum algorithms – USC Viterbi

Associate Professor Giacomo Nannicini brings his optimization expertise from IBM Research to Daniel J. Epstein’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. Image/Juan Miche Rosales.

Giacomo Nannicini, an associate professor of industrial and systems engineering, agrees that his field of research — quantum algorithms and optimization — is never boring. His work gives him a roadmap to help tackle critical challenges, in areas as diverse as quantum computing, routing, and architecture.

Its software and algorithms have been used by one of Europe’s largest real-time traffic and mobility information groups and in the IBM Watson Studio data science platform.

Nannicini joins the USC Viterbi School of Engineering this fall as a new research and teaching faculty member, after many years of industry work on optimization algorithms, including six years with IBM Research. Nannicini’s extensive experience will enhance the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineeringoptimization capability and algorithms for quantum computing.

“It’s very hard to get bored with optimization. These are the kind of tools and frameworks that can be applied to many different problems,” Nannicini said.

Since its beginnings as a Ph.D. as a student, Nannicini was fascinated by optimization and began working on large-scale shortest path problems – in which an algorithm is designed to find the optimal path between points. It is the theoretical framework that underlies map navigation technologies such as Google Maps, taking into account many variables, such as terrain and traffic information, in order to find the most efficient path between two points.

Nannicini quickly found that optimization challenges were everywhere, and his experience could be applied to a range of areas, such as energy, transportation and supply chains.

“Another area I’ve worked in is architectural design optimization. Some architectural issues, especially building design, can be informed by performance metrics. These are usually measures of energy performance or various measures of the quality of life inside a building, such as the brightness inside and how the heat changes during the day,” Nannicini said. . “All of these things can be determined by simulation, with complex simulation software that allows you to enter your parameters for your building design, your windows and your location, and then you can see what the thermal profile and consumption will look like. of energy.”

Some of Nannicini’s work concerns algorithms for finding optimal values ​​for these input parameters.

Nannicini said these algorithms are also useful for machine learning. He said training machine learning models to solve problems often requires a tedious process of figuring out the right parameters to input into a model.

“How you set the parameters determines how well you can train the model,” Nannicini said. “When I was at IBM, I worked on algorithms and software to automate this process.”

Nannicini holds a doctorate. in computer science from Ecole Polytechnique in France. He has held visiting positions at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and the Sloan School of Management at MIT, as well as an Adjunct Professor role in the Engineering Systems and Design pillar at the University of Singapore technology and design.

He has received numerous honors for his research, including the 2021 Beale-Orchard-Hays Prize, the 2015 Robert Faure Prize and the 2012 Glover-Klingman Prize.

Nannicini’s recent work in IBM’s Quantum Algorithms Group has focused on designing and understanding the power of quantum optimization algorithms.

As he begins his role at USC Viterbi, Nannicini looks forward to forging collaborations with experts working in quantum computing and optimization algorithms, both within USC and in industry.

“USC has a strong group of people in other departments, such as electrical engineering and physics, but I think it’s a fairly new field for industrial and systems engineering,” Nannicini said. “I plan to start developing courses and also see how I can link collaborations from other departments and industry.”

Posted on September 30, 2022

Last updated September 30, 2022

Sharon D. Cole