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Prof Amit Kumar from IIT Delhi awarded the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2018 for his work on theoretical computer science

Prof. Amit Kumar, Jaswinder and Tarvinder Chadha Chair Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, has been awarded the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize for Science and Technology 2018. He is recognised for his outstanding research in the field of Combinatorial Optimisation and Graph-Theoretic Algorithms under the Mathematical Sciences category.

The Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize (SSB), awarded by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), is the most prestigious recognition in Science and Technology in the country. It is named after the founder Director of CSIR, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar and consists of Rs 5,00,000 prize money and a citation plaque. The Prize is awarded to researchers in the field of Biological Sciences, Chemical Sciences, Earth, Atmosphere, Ocean and Planetary Science, Engineering Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Medical Sciences, and Physical Sciences.

Prof. Kumar said that the award would motivate him to work with even more enthusiasm in his research area.

“Looking forward, we want to motivate more undergraduate students to take up research as a career. Any research area needs a critical mass of researchers. This change is slowly happening in theoretical computer science in India”, he says.

Prof. Kumar’s research interest lies in the area of theoretical computer science, with emphasis on problems arising in scheduling, resource allocation, graph theory and clustering. “Many of these problems are fundamental in nature and have been studied for many years (or decades). Often one needs to design algorithms which use novel heuristics, and formally prove that they give good solutions”, he explains.

One such example is the scheduling of tasks in large data centres, which have immense computing resources and billions of jobs lined up. How does one schedule tasks such that the resources are used optimally? “Optimality could mean minimising the overall delay of tasks, or energy consumed by the processors, or some combination of the two”, explains Prof. Kumar.

Sometimes, these tasks may not be known in advance, and scheduling algorithms need to make decisions after considering other adversarial factors. These algorithms are called on-line algorithms. “My research focuses on resource allocation problems in graph theory where we want to connect a set of users or computers in a network optimally”, adds Prof. Kumar, talking about his work.

Also a recipient of the Indian National Academy of Engineer (INAE) Young Engineer Award, Indian National Science Academy (INSA) Young Scientist Award and the IBM Faculty Award. Prof. Kumar has broad industry and academic experience in India and abroad.