Combinatorial Algorithms for National Security
Working at a national laboratory can be somewhere in between academia and industry. I will describe my perspective of what makes working at a lab unique, based on my experience in the Computing Research Center at Sandia National Laboratories. I will mention skills that will help a researcher succeed in this environment, many just those that will help anywhere. The constraints and priorities of national-security problems often give even abstracted problems unusual twists. I will summarize some example research projects from data science (streaming data management for cybersecurity, cooperative computing among autonomous data centers for counterterrorism) to solvers (highly parallel branch and bound) to the intersection of government and industry (e.g. sensor placement for municipal water networks with the US EPA).
Cynthia Phillips is a senior scientist at Sandia National Laboratories. In her 30 years at the lab she has conducted research in combinatorial optimization, algorithm design and analysis, and parallel computation with more recent work in data science such as streaming algorithms. The applications reflect some of the diversity of Sandia's mission including scheduling, network and infrastructure surety, computational biology, computer security, quantum computing, neuromorphic computing, hardware/algorithm co-design, social network analysis, wireless networks and sensor placement (e.g. for municipal water networks for the EPA). Her work spans highly theoretical papers to general-purpose codes to applications. She has done extensive professional service including being a professional society officer and a conference chair. She is an Association for Computing Machinery distinguished scientist and a Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics fellow. She received a B.A. in applied mathematics from Harvard University and a PhD in computer science from MIT.