CSE Ph.D. Student Hau Chan Wins Two 2012 NSF Fellowship Awards


STONY BROOK, N.Y., April 04, 2012

Hau Chan receives prestigious NSF Graduate Fellowship and an NSF EAPSI Fellowship.

Hau Chan, a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook University, has been selected to receive both a 2012 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship and a 2012 East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students (EAPSI) Program Fellowship for Singapore.

The NSF GRFP Fellowship is extremely competitive and notoriously hard to get. (Hau received an Honorable Mention in last year's GRFP competition.)

In the email informing the award selection, James H. Lightbourne, III, Director of the Division of Graduate Education in the Directorate for Education and Human Resources at NSF, states, "Your selection was based on your outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as your potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the US science and engineering enterprise."

Hau's proposed project for the NSF GRFP Fellowship deals with game-theoretic models to study interdependent security and risk in large networks, with application to cybersecurity and terrorism.

Hau has already made some initial progress on his research project. He presented preliminary results related to his work at last summer's International Conference on Game Theory (ICGT), part of the 22nd Stony Brook Game Theory Festival of the Game Theory Society. (That work was joint with Michael Ceyko, a former Honors' undergraduate student in CS at SBU, who went on to Harvard University for graduate studies, and CSE Prof. Luis Ortiz, who is also Hau's advisor on the project. The Game Theory Festival is a world-renown meeting of top game theorists, including several Nobel Prize winners in Economics, held at the SBU Campus every summer.)

Moving forward, Hau future work includes establishing computational limits to some of the problems addressed such as the computation of equilibrium conditions in interdependent defense (IDD) games, a class proposed in the work Hau presented at ICGT, designing machine learning techniques to infer IDD games from data, generalizing existing algorithms and developing practical effective heuristics as needed.

The NSF GRFP reviewers highlighted Hau's "strong academic record, rich and productive research experiences," as well as his "interesting background" and his appreciation of "the obstacles that are faced by underrepresented groups in science and engineering." The reviewers also recognized that Hau's project addresses "a very important topic," and "the potential broader impact on the proposed research project on the society and people's daily life."

As part of the NSF EAPSI Fellowship, Hau will spent the summer doing research at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, working with a research group that includes Prof. Ning Chen and Prof. Edith Elkind. His proposed work there will focus on computational problems in mechanism design, an area considered as the "engineering" part of game-theory.

Beyond the academic prestige the Fellowship Award carries by itself, the NSF GRFP comes with support for tuition-related expenses and a stipend of $30,000 per year for three years. The NSF EAPSI Program Fellowship, which is managed by the Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE), provides a stipend of $5,000, as well as covering other travel and living expenses.

Hau is a member of the Machine Learning Lab (MLL), located in the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) building. Prof. Luis Ortiz is the lab director. Current work at the lab concentrates on graphical models for game theory and economics. Besides Hau's work at MLL, other recent work include models for the study of influence in networks, with applications to identifying most influential individuals (work with Ph.D. student Mohammad Irfan), strengthening the connection between the problem of probabilistic inference in probabilistic graphical models and the problem of equilibrium computation in graphical games, and the design of ML-based techniques to infer large-population games from data. The work is partially supported by an NSF CAREER grant awarded to Prof. Ortiz in 2011.

Established in 1969, the Computer Science Department at Stony Brook University is consistently ranked among the top Computer Science research departments. The department is the largest unit in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences and is among the largest on the campus. The department is active in many of the major research areas in computer science with specialization in Visual Computing, Computer Systems, Networking and Security, Databases, Logic Programming and Deductive Systems, Concurrency and Verification, Algorithms and Complexity, and Computer Science Education. Our department is the primary participant in the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT), a $230 Million High-Tech Center at Stony Brook and one of a handful in New York state.