Fall 2022

Data-Driven Decision Processes

Aug. 17Dec. 16, 2022

Sequential decision-making under uncertainty is a foundational topic in multiple fields — Markov decision processes (MDP) in economics and operations research, feedback control in engineering, online algorithms in computer science. The former two fields owe their modern form to work done in the 1950s by Richard Bellman (for MDPs), and by Pontryagin and Kalman (for control); they also share many similarities, primary among which is the idea of using probability distributions for modelling uncertainty. In the same decade, a then recently-appointed faculty member at Berkeley published a short 8-page paper in the Pacific Journal of Mathematics, suggesting an alternate model, where instead of making assumptions on the uncertainty, the controller tries to compete against an adversary. This result, the celebrated Blackwell Approachability Theorem, in many ways forms the precursor to the later development of competitive analysis in the 80s and online learning in the 90s.

While MDPs, optimal control and online algorithms have all enjoyed great success going along their own paths, today all three fields are increasingly converging. A core reason behind this is that as data becomes more readily available and technology improves, it allows for greater customization in algorithms for different settings. As a result, researchers in economics and operations research, engineering and TCS move towards more flexible models of “data-driven decision processes”: hybrid models that combine stochastic and adversarial information structures, and algorithms that adapt better to the structure of information, constraints and objectives.

The program brings together researchers working on data-driven decision processes ranging across CS theory, machine learning, operations research, stochastic control and economics. The aim is to unify different threads of research in these topics, and lay out a program for data-driven decision-making research in the years to come. In addition to the technical content, the program aims to also shine a spotlight on the contributions of David Blackwell to online decision-making as much of the content of the program is born out of his ideas, which were far ahead of his time in many ways.

datadriven2022announcements [at] (Click here to subscribe to our announcements email list for this program.)


Shipra Agrawal (Columbia University), Siddhartha Banerjee (Cornell University), Shuchi Chawla (UT Austin), Thodoris Lykouris (MIT)

Long-Term Participants (including Organizers):

Rediet Abebe (University of California Berkeley), Ali Aouad (London Business School), Hamsa Bastani (University of Pennsylvania), Aditya Bhaskara (University of Utah), Jose Blanchet (Stanford University), Emma Brunskill (Stanford University), Sophia Chen (Simons Institute, UC Berkeley), Christian Coester (University of Oxford), Jose Correa (Universidad de Chile), Daniel Freund (MIT), Anupam Gupta (Carnegie Mellon University), Nika Haghtalab (UC Berkeley), Jessica Hullman (Northwestern University), Nicole Immorlica (Microsoft Research), Nicole Immorlica (Microsoft Research), Kevin Jamieson (University of Washington), Michael Jordan (UC Berkeley), Yash Kanoria (Columbia University), Thomas Kesselheim (University of Bonn), Irene Lo (Stanford University), Ilan Lobel (NYU Stern), Thodoris Lykouris (MIT), Vahideh Manshadi (Yale University), Rad Niazadeh (The University of Chicago Booth School of Business), Rhonda Righter (UC Berkeley), Anne-Katrin Roesler (University of Toronto), Daniela Saban (Stanford University), Amin Saberi (Stanford University), Sahil Singla (Georgia Institute of Technology), Ola Svensson (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)), Csaba Szepesvari (University of Alberta), Nikhil Vellodi (Paris School of Economics), Weina Wang (Carnegie Mellon University), Amy Ward (University of Chicago), Adam Wierman (Caltech), Qiaomin Xie (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Christina Yu (Cornell University)

Research Fellows:

Jackie Baek (MIT), Alankrita Bhatt (University of California San Diego), Niccolò Lomys (Toulouse school of economics), Chara Podimata (Harvard University), Ziv Scully (Carnegie Mellon University), Kangning Wang (Duke University), Chen-Yu Wei (University of Southern California)

Visiting Graduate Students and Postdocs:

Priyank Agrawal (Columbia University), Etienne Bamas (EPFL), Alexander Braun (University of Bonn), Dimitrios Christou (UT Austin), Andrés Cristi (Universidad de Chile), Marina Drygala (EPFL), Matthew Eichhorn (Cornell University), Bailey Flanigan (Carnegie Mellon University), Xinrui Jia (EPFL), Jiashuo Jiang (NYU Stern School of Business), Johannes Kirschner (University of Alberta), Andreas Maggiori (EPFL), Jessica Maghakian (Stony Brook University), Georgy Noarov (University of Pennsylvania), Madhusudhan Reddy Pittu (Carnegie Mellon University), Tristan Pollner (Stanford University), Sudeep Raja Putta (Columbia University), Saeyoung Rho (Columbia University), Mohammad Roghani (Stanford University), Sherry Sarkar (Carnegie Mellon University), Abhishek Shetty (UC Berkeley), Bernardo Aníbal Subercaseaux Roa (Carnegie Mellon University), Andrew Wagenmaker (University of Washington), Yifan Wang (Georgia Institute of Technology), Wentao Weng (MIT), Jalani Williams (Carnegie Mellon University), Mobin YahyazadehJeloudar (Stanford University), Kamessi Zhao (MIT), Yueyang Zhong (University of Chicago Booth School of Business)


Aug. 22Aug. 26, 2022


Siddhartha Banerjee (Cornell University), Nika Haghtalab (UC Berkeley), Adam Wierman (Caltech)
Sep. 8Sep. 9, 2022


Sep. 12Sep. 16, 2022


Thodoris Lykouris (MIT; chair), Laura Doval (Columbia University), Kevin Jamieson (University of Washington)
Oct. 10Oct. 14, 2022


Shipra Agrawal (Columbia University; chair), Balasubramanian Sivan (Google Research NYC)
Nov. 7Nov. 10, 2022


Shuchi Chawla (UT Austin; chair), Rachel Cummings (Columbia University), Irene Lo (Stanford University)

If you are interested in joining this program, please see the Participate page. See also the call for Research Fellowships for 2022-2023 has closed.

Internal Program Activities

Friday, August 19th 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm