Greek MIT professor Constantinos Daskalakis wins 2018 Rolf Nevanlinna Prize

Greek MIT professor Constantinos Daskalakis wins 2018 Rolf Nevanlinna Prize

The first day of August of 2018 will definitely be remembered as a very special day in his career and professional life.

Why? Simply because one of the most prestigious international awards in mathematics of this year was given to him, a Greek MIT professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and principal investigator at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), Constantinos (“Costis” as the MIT article refers to him) Daskalakis.

“Costis combines amazing technical virtuosity with the rare gift of choosing to work on problems that are both fundamental and complex”, said CSAIL Director Daniela Rus. “We are all so happy to hear about this well-deserved recognition for our colleague.”

Him being the winner of the globally renowned award was announced at the International Conference of Mathematicians in Brazil, on August 1st.

The prize is awarded every four years (alongside the Fields Medal) to a scientist under 40 who has made major contributions to the mathematical aspects of computer science.

According to the MIT news webpage, Daskalakis was honored by the International Mathematical Union (IMU) for “transforming our understanding of the computational complexity of fundamental problems in markets, auctions, equilibria, and other economic structures.” The award comes with a monetary prize of 10,000 euros.

Created in 1981 by the Executive Committee of the IMU, the prize is named after the Finnish mathematician Rolf Nevanlinna. The prize is awarded for outstanding contributions on the mathematical aspects of informational sciences. Recipients are invited to participate in the Heidelberg Laureate Forum, an annual networking event that also includes recipients of the ACM A.M. Turing Award, the Abel Prize, and the Fields Medal.

The man behind the prize – A bit more about Constantinos Daskalakis

The 37-year-old theoretical computer scientist who now teaches at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) -where he became a tenured Professor in May 2015- is a native Greek.

After finishing his undergraduate studies in the National Technical University of Athens, from where he received his Diploma in Electrical and Computer Engineering, in 2004, left for the University of California, Berkeley, where he received his PhD in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in 2008 under the supervision of another very special Greek mind, Christos Papadimitriou who also lives in the States and works at Columbia University, New York City.

After his Ph.D. he was a postdoctoral researcher in Jennifer Chayes’s group at Microsoft Research, New England for one year.

Ever since, Daskalakis has been working on computation theory and its interface with game theory, economics, probability theory, statistics and machine learning.

An award “collector”

An outstanding moment in his professional life before the 2018 Prize was 10 years ago, in 2008, when his Ph.D. thesis was awarded the 2008 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award.

Together with Paul Goldberg and Christos Papadimitriou, they received the 2008 Game Theory and Computer Science Prize for their paper “The Complexity of Computing a Nash Equilibrium”.

For the above mentioned work, Daskalakis was also awarded the 2008 Kalai Prize for outstanding articles at the interface of computer science and game theory, along with Christos Papadimitriou and Paul W. Goldberg.

Constantinos Daskalakis, at MIT in Cambridge 

Last but not least, thanks to his productivity, he has also received the Simons Foundation Investigator award in Theoretical Computer Science, an award designed for “outstanding scientists in their most productive years”, who are “providing leadership to the field”…. / IBNA

Main Image: Constantinos Daskalakis by Sarah A. King for “Gaming the System”