Theory and Algorithms

Theory and Algorithms - an illustrationTheoretical computer science develops efficient algorithms and explores fundamental barriers to efficient and secure computation. Advances in algorithms can provide dramatic performance gains, which are critically important as the era of Moore's Law—and its promise of ever-increasing processor speeds—draws to a close.

Our faculty develop algorithms to find optimal paths, trees, flows, clusters, and other important combinatorial structures in geometric and network data. For problems where computing the best possible solution is prohibitively expensive, we develop fast approximation algorithms to compute provably good solutions, and we explore the limits of what cannot even be approximated quickly. We develop algorithms that exploit geometric, algebraic, and topological properties of data that arise naturally in practice. Within cryptography, we develop protocols for secure multiparty computation and code obfuscation. In algorithmic game theory, we study the impact of strategic behavior among multiple agents. Our research, in addition to its fundamental importance, has many near-term applications in Computer Science and beyond.

CS Faculty and Their Research Interests

Timothy Chan computational geometry
Chandra Chekuri algorithms, optimization 
Jeff Erickson computational geometry and topology, algorithms 
Michael Forbes computational complexity
Brighten Godfrey networked systems theory, distributed algorithms
Sariel Har-Peled computational geometry, geometric approximation algorithms
Sheldon Jacobson optimization, operations research
Dakshita Khurana joining fall 2019; cryptography, privacy, security
Ruta Mehta algorithmic game theory, mathematical economics, efficient algorithms
Leonard Pitt  AI and theoretical computing 
Matus Telgarsky machine learning theory
Mahesh Viswanathan algorithmic verification of cyberphysical systems 
Tandy Warnow multiple sequence alignment, phylogenomics, metagenomics, and historical linguistics

Affiliate Faculty

Karthik Chandrasekaran, Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering combinatorial optimization, integer programming, probabilistic methods and analysis, randomized algorithms  
Negar Kiyavash, Electrical & Computer Engineering and Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering learning, statistical signal processing, and information theory; causality; network forensics 
Rakesh Nagi, Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering social networks, graph algorithms, applied operations research, discrete optimization

Adjunct Faculty

Alexandra Kolla, University of Colorado at Boulder complexity theory, spectral methods for graph algorithms 
Manoj Prabhakaran, IIT Bombay cryptography, secure multi-party computation 

Related Theory and Algorithms Research Efforts and Groups


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Theory and Algorithms Research News

Google Faculty Research Awards

CS Faculty Receive Google Faculty Research Awards

April 11, 2019   Google Faculty Research Awards are given to a select group conducting computer science and engineering research. This year two Illinois CS faculty were chosen, as well as three ECE faculty who are CS affiliates.
Alma the "talking" dog

Does Alma the Dog Want a Treat? Just Ask Her

April 2, 2019   Computer Science and Statistics senior Bliss Chapman is part of the team behind Alma the "talking" dog, a hit at Engineering Open House.
New NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament bracket generator.

Jacobson’s BracketOdds Site Adds NCAA Women’s Bracket Generator

March 29, 2019   The new bracket generator for the NCAA Women's Tournament is the first of its kind. It uses the same models as the long-running men's tournament generator.
CS Professor Sheldon Jacobson

The Man Behind the Last Remaining Perfect NCAA Bracket

March 26, 2019  

The Columbus Dispatch -- Gregg Nigl almost didn’t fill out his March Madness bracket. But now, through 48 games of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, his remains perfect, the last of its kind. The odds of Nigl correctly predicting the final 15 games, though, are about 1 in 32,786, said Sheldon H. Jacobson, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois.

CS Professor Sheldon Jacobson

100 Trips Through an NCAA Women’s Bracket Simulator

March 25, 2019  

High Post Hoops -- University of Illinois computer science Professor Sheldon Jacobson has created a women’s tournament bracket simulator. So, want to know what’s likely to happen in the tournament? We ran 100 simulations to get a general sense. Here are the top questions that we can answer, thanks to the simulator.