Professor Alexander Shapiro, who holds an A. Russell Chandler III Chair in Georgia Tech’s H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) as part of the Class of 2020. Election to the NAE is among the highest professional distinctions awarded to an engineer.
In announcing Shapiro’s election to the prestigious organization, the NAE commended him for “contributions to the theory, computation, and application of stochastic programming.”
“We are delighted that Alex’s extraordinary career and contributions to the field have been recognized with his induction into the NAE. He has been a pioneer in optimization, and this honor is testament to his research work and accomplishments,” stated Steve McLaughlin, dean of the College of Engineering and Southern Company Chair.
“Congratulations to Alexander on this outstanding professional achievement,” said ISyE School Chair Edwin Romeijn. “This well-deserved recognition and honor confirms his leadership in the field of stochastic programming. We are proud to have him as a member of the ISyE and Georgia Tech communities, and I know he will continue to make noteworthy contributions to our field in the future.”
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, described in an issue of Georgia Tech publication Research Horizons.
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.
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.
Shapiro has received other notable accolades for his research. In 2004, he joined the list of ISI Highly Cited Researchers. He was awarded the INFORMS Optimization Society’s Khachiyan Prize for lifetime achievements in optimization in 2013. In 2018 Shapiro received the George B. Dantzig Prize, awarded by the Mathematical Optimization Society and Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.
“I am honored to be elected to the NAE. This came as a complete surprise to me. Joining our outstanding faculty members of NAE makes me proud,” said Shapiro.
Shapiro received his Ph.D. in applied mathematics-statistics from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel) in 1981. He joined ISyE in 1991.
He and the other 86 newly elected members will be formally inducted at NAE's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on October 4, 2020. Three other faculty members from Georgia Tech were also selected as Class of 2020 members: Wallace H. Coulter Chair Professor Susan Margulies in the Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering; HUSCO/Ramirez Distinguished Chair in Fluid Power and Motion Control and Professor Tim Kurfess; and Regents' Professor and Brook Byers Professor of Sustainable Systems Marilyn Brown in the School of Public Policy.
Shapiro joins other ISyE faculty who are already members of the NAE, including Carolyn J. Stewart Chair and Professor Jan Shi (2018); John Hunter Chair and Professor Arkadi Nemirovski (2017); Coca-Cola Chair in Engineering Statistics and Professor Jeff Wu (2004); Regent’s Professor Emeritus H. Donald Ratliff (1996); Professor Emeritus William Rouse (1991); and Professor Emeritus Ellis Johnson (1988); and A. Russell Chandler III Chair and Institute Professor George Nemhauser (1986).