Jacobson*, Sheldon H. (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Sheldon Jacobson

Dr. Sheldon H. Jacobson
Founder Professor of Computer Science
Director, Simulation & Optimization Lab
Director, Bed Time Research Institute
Department of Computer Science 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
201 N. Goodwin Avenue (MC258)
Urbana, Illinois 61801-2302

Website:  shj.cs.illinois.edu 

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The Mathematics of March Madness

Bracketology, the art of successfully picking all the winners in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's (NCAA) annual men's Division I college basketball championship tournament, has become a favorite national activity. In spite of the challenges and uncertainty faced in this endeavor, patterns exist in how the seeds appear in each round, particularly the later rounds. This presentation present such patterns based on a statistical analysis of tournaments from 1985 to the present.  These findings are discussed in a manner so that any given bracket can be evaluated for its potential to correctly predict seed winners, particularly in the later rounds of the tournament. 


Homeland Security: Aviation Security Modeling and Analysis Using Operations Research

Aviation security has become a topic of intense national interest, as the risk of terrorism and of other hazardous threats to the nation's air system increase.  Recent events have hastened changes to improve the security of the air traffic industry.  This includes multi-million dollar investments in new security technologies and equipment.  This presentation discusses a number of issues that impact the way security is currently being maintained at airports around the United States, and shows how operations research modeling and analysis can play an important role in enhancing airport security operations.


Algorithmic Redistricting and its Role in Addressing Gerrymandering

Every 10 Years, the outcome of the United States Census leads to a reallocation of congressional seats, typically requiring state legislatures to redesign their congressional districts.  This creates the opportunity for these states to design districts that favor a particular party, the process of gerrymandering.  This presentation discusses how gerrymandering is achieved, examples of such efforts, and how algorithms can be used to mitigate its proliferation. 


The Keys to Success

The transition from being a graduate student to a faculty member can appear quite ominous.  This presentation, directed at graduate students considering an academic career, highlights the key milestones and issues that make for a successful academic career. 


Education & Background

  • Ph.D. Cornell University
  • M.Sc. McGill University
  • B.Sc. McGill University

Sheldon H. Jacobson is Founder Professor of Computer Science and Director of both the Simulation and Optimization Laboratory and the Bed Time Research Institute in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois.  He has a B.Sc. and M.Sc. (both in Mathematics) from McGill University, and a M.S. and Ph.D. (both in Operations Research) from Cornell University.  From 2012-2014, he was on leave from the University of Illinois, serving as the Program Director for Operations Research at the National Science Foundation.  His research interests span theory and practice, covering decision-making under uncertainty and discrete optimization modeling and analysis, with applications in aviation security, health care, and sports.  His research has been disseminated in numerous journals, including IISE Transactions, Operations Research, Mathematical Programming, Naval Research Logistics, and Transportation Science.  He has been recognized by numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.  He is a fellow of both IISE and INFORMS.