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Operations Research Expert Arrives from Berkeley

Strengths "a natural fit" for USC initiatives in health systems, homeland security, pattern recognition and other fields
Eric Mankin
October 20, 2009 —

A world-renowned scholar with wide-ranging OR interests who has made major contributions to algorithm design and optimization will be the inaugural recipient of the Epstein Family Chair in the Daniel Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering,

Dorit Simona Hochbaum: "A natural fit" with Viterbi School strengths
Dorit Simona Hochbaum joins the Viterbi School from UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business and UC Berkeley's College of Engineering's Department of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research.

"It is not often anyone gets their first choice when trying to recruit the very best faculty members, but on this occasion the Epstein ISE faculty got exactly what we wished for," said the department's chair, James E. Moore.

He noted that Hochbaum's expertise would be "a natural fit" for the Epstein ISE Department and Viterbi School initiatives in health systems and the University's existing Department of Homeland Security research agendas.

Wrote Hochbaum in her note accepting the appointment, "I am thrilled about the prospect of becoming a chaired professor at the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering."

Hochbaum's research interests include the areas of supply chain management, efficient utilization of resources, computer algorithms and discrete optimization. She did work on locations of plants and bank accounts; on movement of robots; on routing and distribution problems; on feasibility of VLSI designs; on distribution of data bases on computer networks; on clustering problems and on image segmentation and pattern recognition problems among others.

She has contributed to the analysis of heuristics and approximation algorithms in the worst case, and on the average, and to the complexity analysis of algorithms in general, and nonlinear optimization algorithms in particular.  The latter involve devising best algorithms possible for some key problems, such as Markov Random Fields, and allocation problems, and demonstrating that non-linear optimizationproblems cannot be solved in strongly polynomial time.

Her recent work focuses on particularly efficient techniques for network flow related problems and inverse problems, with applications varying from medical prognosis, error correction, financial risk assessment and prediction, to group rankings and decision problems.

Hochbaum is particularly known for her work in optimization -- proving that a solution is not just good, but the best possible, or close. "I try to be an optimizer in whatever I do," she says on her home page, including "baking cakes optimally."

Hochbaum is the author of more than 130 research articles, with more than 4000 citations from other researches to her work. She has served as department editor for the Management Science department of Optimization and Modeling, on the editorial board of Networks and on the advisory board of Algorithms and Operations Research. She served in the past on the editorial boards of Operations Research and Operations Research Letters, and was the founder and director of the USC Berkeley Supply Chain Initiative, which seeks to focus research activity and collaboration with industry for faculty and students with expertise in this area.

In 2004 Hochbaum was the recipient of a Doctor Honoris Causa in sciences by the University of Copenhagen, Denmark for her contributions to approximation algorithms. In 2005, she was named a fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS).

Prior to joining UC Berkeley in 1981, Hochbaum held a faculty position at Carnegie Mellon University's Graduate School of Industrial Administration (GSIA), now the Tepper School of Business. She has a Ph.D from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.