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Zilberstein, Ganesan Named 2021 ACM Fellows

Shlomo Zilberstein, Deepak Ganesan

Professors Shlomo Zilberstein and Deepak Ganesan of the Manning College of Information and Computer Sciences (CICS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, have been named Fellows by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world's largest educational and scientific computing society.

The ACM Fellow recognition is the organization's highest member grade, representing less than one percent of ACM members, who have been named for their "foundational accomplishments in computing and information technology." Zilberstein and Ganesan are part of a group of 71 new fellows representing 58 universities, companies and research centers from around the world. With the latest announcement, a total of 13 current and 7 emeritus CICS faculty have been named ACM Fellows. 

"New technologies are the result of skillfully combining the individual contributions of numerous men and women, often building upon diverse contributions that have emerged over decades," says ACM President Gabriele Kotsis. "But technological progress would not be possible without the essential building blocks of individual contributors. The ACM Fellows program honors the creativity and hard work of ACM members whose specific accomplishments make broader advances possible."

Shlomo Zilberstein 

Zilberstein was cited by the ACM for his "contributions to automated planning, resource-bounded reasoning, and multi-agent systems." He is known for his work in artificial intelligence on the problem of automated planning, including enabling autonomous systems such as service robots or autonomous vehicles to reason about their environment and choose actions intelligently.

"Shlomo Zilberstein is an internationally recognized leader in the field of artificial intelligence, with an important focus on real-world applications and ethical implications," says Laura Haas, dean of CICS. "His highly influential research, leadership, and commitment to teaching others in the field exemplify our college's values of computing for the common good."

Zilberstein's development of decentralized Markov decision processes (MDPs) as a framework for analyzing and implementing multi-agent systems is a key contribution to the field. Beginning in 2000 with a paper recognized in 2019 with a IFAAMAS Influential Paper Award, he and his group were the first to identify the fundamental theoretical differences between centralized and decentralized MDPs, launching a subfield of the research area. Zilberstein and collaborators were also the first to introduce exact and approximate dynamic programming algorithms for solving these problems, and among the first to leverage forms of structured interaction among agents to reduce the complexity of coordination. He has since extended these methods to systems that involve dozens to thousands of agents, showing that decision-theoretic reasoning can scale up to hard practical problems.

Zilberstein has collaborated extensively with industry on translating his research, producing AI systems such as MODIA (multiple online decision-components with interacting actions), which has been deployed on Nissan's experimental autonomous vehicles in the United States and Japan. Over 20 patents have been filed and at least five have been granted based on this work. He has also worked on the social implications of AI systems, developing novel methods to discover and mitigate the negative side effects of deployed AI systems, as well as a new approach to enforce established ethical frameworks on deployed autonomous systems.

Zilberstein was named an Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) Fellow in 2011, and received the AAAI Distinguished Service Award in 2019. He received an NSF CAREER award in 1996, and the Israeli Defense Prize in 1992. At UMass Amherst, he received the Chancellor's Medal in 2019. He has received numerous paper awards, including the IFAAAMAS Influential Paper Award, and distinguished paper awards from the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence '21 and the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence '20. His doctoral students have received seven best dissertation awards and honorable mentions from leading international venues in AI. He has served as a speaker, committee member, co-chair, or chair for over 100 symposia since 1994.

Zilberstein joined the computing science faculty of UMass Amherst in 1993. He received his doctorate in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993, and his bachelor's degree from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology in 1981.

Deepak Ganesan 

Ganesan was cited by the ACM for his "contributions to the development of novel ultra-low power wireless sensing systems." He is known for his creative, innovative, and impactful research in areas including low-power communication, mobile health sensing, and mobile computing.

"Deepak Ganesan is at the forefront of research on ultra-low power wireless sensing systems and the applications of technology to improve the health of medically vulnerable populations," says Laura Haas, dean of CICS. "His extraordinary leadership and impactful research are helping to build more positive outcomes for the aging, people living with Alzheimer's and dementia, and people suffering from drug addictions."

A leading expert in wireless backscatter communication, Ganesan has done pioneering work in making this technology practical for wearable systems and the Internet of Things (IoT). His work was among the earliest to demonstrate the feasibility of continuous communication from wearables to mobile phones at microwatts of power using backscatter communication. In addition to publications at top conferences, this body of work has led to four awarded US patents.

Ganesan has performed seminal research in detecting and preventing addictive behavior--including smoking, substance use, and alcoholism--by providing real-time insights into the circumstances under which individuals relapse, thereby enabling the development of more effective "just-in-time" treatment plans. He has developed some of the earliest real-time detectors for cocaine and opioid use, as well as drug craving, and some of the earliest wearables for detecting smoking behavior. Ganesan has also developed wearable platforms for monitoring sleep, neurological disease progression, fatigue, and pain for older adults. He developed a patented ultra-low power wearable eye tracker using sparsity-based sampling to reduce power by two orders of magnitude over the state-of-the-art, and has recently helped develop a new generation of wearables that adapts loose-fitting and comfortable cotton garments into smart sleepwear that can measure physiological parameters and fine-grained sleep metrics for elderly patients. 

Ganesan recently created the Massachusetts AI & Technology Center for Connected Care in Aging and Alzheimer's Disease, a multidisciplinary initiative advancing the use of artificial intelligence and mobile technology for aging and Alzheimer's research that has received $20 million in funding from the National Institute of Aging. He directs the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM) at UMass Amherst's Institute for Applied Life Sciences, an interdisciplinary research, training, technology development, and human validation center established with funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He is a co-leader of the MOSAIC research group at UMass Amherst, which conducts research on sensor systems, networking, and data analytics for health and behavior modeling with a focus on solving real-world problems.

Ganesan was named an ACM Distinguished Scientist in 2019, and was also selected as a Chair of Excellence by the University Carlos III of Madrid the same year. He was granted an NSF CAREER award in 2005, an IBM Faculty Partnership award in 2008, Google Research Awards in 2010 and 2017, and a Massachusetts Technology Transfer Center Award in 2017. At UMass Amherst, he was named a Chancellor's New Faculty Fellow in 2008 and a Lilly Teaching Fellow in 2009. He has received best paper awards and award nominations from ACM CHI, ACM MobiSys, ACM Mobicom, ACM Ubicomp, ACM Multimedia and IEEE SECON.

Ganesan joined the computer science faculty of UMass Amherst in 2004 and received his doctorate in computer science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2004, and his bachelor's degree from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1998.

For more information about the ACM Fellows Program and a complete list of newly elevated fellows, see: https://awards.acm.org/fellows