This post is targeted at prospective graduate students, especially foreigners from outside the US, who are primarily interested in optimization but also have a taste for probability theory (basically readers of this blog!). As a foreigner myself I remember that during my undergraduate studies my view of the US was essentially restricted to the usual suspects, Princeton, Harvard, MIT, Berkeley, Stanford. These places are indeed amazing, but I would like to try to raise awareness that, in terms of the interface optimization/probability, University of Washington (and especially the theory of computation group there) has a reasonable claim for the place with the most amazing opportunities right now in this space:
- The junior faculty (Shayan Oveis Gharan, Thomas Rothvoss, and Yin Tat Lee) are all doing groundbreaking (and award-winning) work at the interface optimization/probability. In my opinion the junior faculty roster is a key element in the choice of grad school, as typically junior faculty have much more time to dedicate to students. In particular I know that Yin Tat Lee is looking for graduate students starting next Fall.
- Besides the theory of computation group, UW has lots of resources in optimization such as TOPS (Trends in Optimization Seminar), and many optimization faculty in various department (Maryam Fazel, Jim Burke, Dmitriy Drusvyatskiy, Jeff Bilmes, Zaid Harchaoui) which means many interesting classes to take!
- The Theory Group at Microsoft Research is just a bridge away from UW, and we have lots of activities on optimization/probability there too. In fact I am also looking for one graduate student, to be co-advised with a faculty from UW.
Long story short, if you are a talented young mathematician interested in making a difference in optimization then you should apply to the CS department at UW, and here is the link to do so.