IST Assistant Professor Hadi Hosseini Receives NSF CAREER Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Hadi Hosseini, assistant professor at Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), is the recipient of a 2022 National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development (CAREER) Award . The CAREER Award is the NSF’s most prestigious award to support junior faculty members who exemplify the teacher-researcher role through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research. .

The $557,000 prize over five years will advance Hosseini’s research to solve problems at the intersection of computing, artificial intelligence and economics. In his broader work, Hosseini studies different aspects of interested actors in multi-agent systems and develops algorithms and theoretical techniques to achieve desirable societal safeguards. The CAREER Prize will support its efforts to explore robust fairness in matching and allocation markets – where goods, services or resources must be distributed among multiple parties driven by factors other than price.

“I see equity as one of the main societal issues; it occurs in all types of contexts involving humans, institutions and AI agents, from sharing data to distributing equipment to assigning university courses,” Hosseini said. “The goal is to make fair decisions – even when the preferences of the parties involved are conflicting.”

Hosseini aims to leverage existing computational and game-theoretic techniques to develop new fundamental algorithmic solutions for solving a variety of allocation and matching problems. It will explore how a computer system might be designed to distribute resources fairly when the preferences of the various parties involved are noisy or uncertain; for example, distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to multiple medical institutions each of which has an unknown demand or supply. It will also work to provide an approach to help guide decision-making when social planners do not know how many resources are available or when they will be available; for example, how to fairly distribute perishables from the food bank — which may be donated sporadically — in a timely manner.

Additionally, it will explore areas that require maintaining group fairness when the demands of multiple participants are diverse and the strategic behavior of interested participants could significantly impede the stability, fairness, or efficiency of decisions; for example, in a gig economy where freelance and flexible workers have preferences about the shifts they work or the types of jobs they want to do, while the company that hires them has its own preferences as to when the work should be completed or how much they will charge.

“These problems have been addressed in the past mainly in static environments with complete information, but they have not been studied from a fairness perspective, especially to ensure robustness against noisy preferences, resource uncertainty and strategic behavior,” Hosseini said. “We want to ensure that collective decision-making is fair in the sense that all participants or stakeholders are treated fairly.”

Hosseini views the CAREER award as recognition of his early career successes in research and teaching, and as motivation for his future work.

“In my opinion, the CAREER awards are a recognition of the quality of past work and a kind of validation of the great vision that you will build in the next few years,” he said. “Being able to communicate these types of algorithmic solutions that offer provable guarantees for a variety of social problems to my students and the public excites me.

Hosseini came to Penn State in 2020 from Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was an assistant professor in the computer science department. Prior to that, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University and worked as an assistant instructor and instructional developer at the University of Waterloo. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Waterloo.

At Penn State, he is director of the FAIR Lab, associate director of the Center for Artificial Intelligence Foundations and Engineered Systems (CAFE), and affiliated with the Computer Science Theory Research Group and the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences.

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