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(L to R) Pankaj Agarwal, Allen Xiao, Debmalya Panigrahi, Janardhan Kulkarni, Nat Kell, Brandon Fain, Stavros Sintos, Jiangwei Pan, Kyle Fox, Wuzhou Zhang, Will Victor, You (Will) Wu, Abhinandan Nath, Xiamoing (Nate) Xu
(Not in the picture) Kamesh Munagala

The theory group is engaged in cutting-edge research in a broad span of areas, including geometric computing, approximation and online algorithms, graph algorithms, game theory and mechanism design, stochastic optimization and decision theory, and combinatorial optimization. The group is also engaged in collaborative efforts with researchers in a broad array of application areas and makes leading contributions to nanotechnology systems, computational molecular biology, database management and data analysis, computational economics, internet systems and services, high-performance computing, geographic information systems (GIS), and ecological modeling.

In the news: We are 10th on a recent ranking of theory groups across the U.S.: click here for more.



Pankaj Agarwal

Primary Area: Theoretical Computer Science
Research Interests: Computational & discrete geometry, Shape analysis, GIS and ecologic modeling, Spatial databases, Sensor networks, Trajectory data analysis


Robert Calderbank

Primary Area: Theoretical Computer Science
Research Interests: Error correcting codes, Combinatorics, Electrical Engineering


Brandon Fain

Primary Area: Theoretical Computer Science
Research Interests: Fair resource allocation, Algorithmic game theory, Computational social choice.


Rong Ge

Primary Area: Theoretical Computer Science
Research Interests: Algorithms, machine learning, matrix/tensor decompositions, optimization.


Kamesh Munagala

Primary Area: Theoretical Computer Science
Research Interests: Approximation and Online algorithms, Stochastic optimization, Decision theory, Scheduling theory, Computational economics and Algorithmic mechanism design, Data-driven modeling and analysis of social networks, Big-data processing and Query optimization


Debmalya Panigrahi

Primary Area: Theoretical Computer Science
Research Interests: Graph algorithms, Online and approximation algorithms, Combinatorial optimization, Applied algorithms


John H. Reif

Primary Area: Theoretical Computer Science
Research Interests: Biomolecular Computing and Self Assembly of DNA Nanostructures, Algorithms, Quantum computing, Optical computing


Benjamin Rossman

Primary Area: Theoretical Computer Science
Research Interests: Complexity Theory, Circuit Complexity, Finite Model Theory, Combinatorics


Vincent Conitzer

Primary Area: Artificial Intelligence
Research Interests: Algorithmic and complexity aspects of fundamental problems in microeconomic theory, especially game theory, social choice, and mechanism design


Bruce Donald

Primary Area: Artificial Intelligence
Research Interests: Algorithms for structural molecular biology, Computational biology, Computational chemistry, Computational biophysics, Modeling of proteins and protein complexes, Optimization and search, Provably-good approximation algorithms, Computational geometry, Game theory for modeling pathogen resistance, Statistical mechanics, Computational topology, Geometric modeling and geometric computing


John Harer

Primary Area: Mathematics
Research Interests: Computational topology, Computational biology, Algorithms


Ashwin Machanavajjhala

Primary Area: Systems
Research Interests: Data privacy, Systems for massive data analytics, Statistical methods for information extraction and entity resolution


Bruce Maggs

Primary Area: Systems
Research Interests: Distributed systems


Sayan Mukherjee

Primary Area: Statistical Science
Reseach Interests: Randomized algorithms in machine learning, Spectral theory for simplicial complexes, Computational topology


Scott Schmidler

Primary Area: Statistical Science
Research Interests: Monte Carlo algorithms, Markov chain mixing times, Randomized algorithms, Approximate integration and approximate counting, Computational complexity, Problems in computational statistics, Statistical physics, Computational biology, Phylogenetics, Shape analysis


Graduate Students


Recent Alumni


  • Yu Cheng, 2019 (Assistant Professor at UIC).
  • Kyle Fox, 2017 (Assistant Professor at UT Dallas)
  • Sungjin Im, 2013 (Assistant Professor at UC Merced)
  • Thomas Moelhave, 2013 (Scalable Algorithmics)
  • Swaminathan Sankaraman, 2013 (Akamai Technologies)


  • Brandon Fain, 2019 (Assistant Research Professor at Duke University)
  • Samuel Haney, 2019 (Tumult Labs)
  • Nathaniel Kell, 2018 (Assistant Professor at Denison University)
  • Seyed Zahedi, 2018 (Assistant Professor at University of Waterloo)
  • Abhinandan Nath, 2018 (Mentor Graphics)
  • Tianqi Song, 2018 (Postdoc at Caltech)
  • Hieu Bui, 2017 (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)
  • Sudhanshu Garg, 2016 (LinkedIn)
  • Jiangwei Pan, 2016 (Facebook)
  • Janardhan Kulkarni, 2015 (Postdoc at Microsoft Research, Redmond)
  • Salman Parsa, 2015 (Postdoc at ENS Paris)
  • You Wu, 2015 (Google)
  • Xiaoming Xu, 2015 (Lifecode -> Google)
  • Wuzhou Zhang, 2015 (Apple)
  • Albert Yu, 2013 (Amazon)
  • Sharath Raghvendra, 2012 (Postdoc at Stanford -> Assistant Professor at Virginia Tech)
  • Sayan Bhattacharya, 2012 (Postdoc at MPI Saarbrucken -> Assistant Professor at IMSc, Chennai)
  • Harish Chandran, 2012 (Google)
  • Nikhil Gopalkrishnan, 2012 (Postdoc at Harvard)
  • Shashidhara K. Ganjugunte, 2011 (Mentor Graphics)


  • Haofeng (Fred) Zhang, 2018 (PhD studet at Harvard)
  • Arun Ganesh, 2017 (PhD student at UC Berkeley)
  • Rex Ying, 2016 (PhD student at Stanford)
  • William Victor, 2016 (Applied Predictive Technologies)
  • Niel Lebeck, 2014 (PhD student at UW Seattle)
  • Ben Berg, 2013
  • Siyang Chen, 2012 (Google)
  • Peng Shi, 2010 (PhD student at MIT)