Georgia Tech’s Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) announced that Professor Alexander Shapiro has received the 2018 George B. Dantzig Prize. This award, given jointly every three years by the Mathematical Optimization Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, honors original research that has had a major impact on the field of mathematical optimization.
“Congratulations to Alex for this prestigious award,” said ISyE School Chair Edwin Romeijn. “The Dantzig Prize recognizes the extensive contributions he has made to the field of optimization, particularly with regard to simulation-based optimization, stochastic programming, and non-smooth analysis. This honor is very well-deserved.”
An example of application of Shapiro’s research is the work he did a few years ago with Operador Nacional do Sistema Eletrico (ONS) in Brazil. Brazilian power system generation is dominated by hydroelectric sources using large reservoirs. ONS uses a complex computer algorithm that models the system to help ensure that electricity generation meets the demand at minimum expected cost, planning the generation of power based on such information as electricity demand forecast and water inflow scenarios based on the historical data. To improve the system, ONS decided to develop a methodology for adding a risk aversion criterion to the planning model. It contacted Shapiro because of his expertise in optimizing systems using stochastic programming, a technique useful for modeling complex systems when not all input parameters can be known.
The system presented a classic optimization challenge concerning the use of a resource whose future availability could not be determined with accuracy. Shapiro worked with ONS to understand the problem formulation and suggested some modifications that would reduce the risk of energy supply failures. The changes he made rely on stochastic programming, which is often used for modeling optimization programs that involve uncertainty.
The methodology developed by ISyE and ONS could potentially be applied to other power generation systems, as well as to other operations in which uncertain natural resources – such as water supplies – must be used to meet the demand for electricity or other products.
In addition to his work on optimization and stochastic programming, Shapiro's research interests also focus on risk analysis, sensitivity analysis of nonlinear programs, and multivariate statistical analysis.
He has been on the editorial board of several professional journals, such as Mathematics of Operations Research, ESAIM: Control, Optimization and Calculus of Variations, and Computational Management Science. He was an area editor (optimization) of Operations Research and editor-in-chief of Mathematical Programming, Series A (2012-17), the flagship journal of the Mathematical Optimization Society.
He has given numerous invited keynote and plenary talks, including a 2010 invited section talk (Control Theory & Optimization) at the International Congress of Mathematicians, in Hyderabad, India. In 2013, he was awarded the INFORMS Khachiyan Prize for lifetime achievements in optimization.
Shapiro accepted the Dantzig Prize at the International Symposium on Mathematical Programming, held in Bordeaux, France in July.