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Computational Sustainability

Carla Gomes from Cornell visited here a few weeks ago.  I have known Carla for a decade or so, and she has been one of the people who I have found very useful to talk to when trying to figure out the world of constraint programming.

Institute for Computational SustainabilityCarla gets involved in lots of things.  She (along with others, of course, though she is the Lead PI) received a huge grant from NSF to form an Institute for Computational Sustainability, which I think is a wonderful term for an interesting topic.   The vision statement for this activity is quite provocative:

Computer scientists can — and should — play a key role in increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the way we manage and allocate our natural resources, while enriching and transforming Computer Science.

Now, I consider Carla to be in Operations Research, even though she calls herself a computer scientist, and the topics that the Institute address have a strong operations research feel. One example: how can you most effectively create wildlife corridors to connect populations of endangered animals? If that is not an OR problem, I don’t know what is!

The Institute is holding its first conference in a few weeks, with registration open until May 22. The conference has an extremely broad group of speakers and I suspect most of the conference will be spent trying to understand each others terminology, skills, and interests. Looks like it will be a fun week!