IST assistant professor Hadi Hosseini receives NSF CAREER awardPosted on May 24, 2022
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Hadi Hosseini, assistant professor in the Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), is the recipient of a 2022 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The CAREER award is the most prestigious award given by the NSF in support of junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholar through outstanding research, excellent teaching, and the integration of education and research.
The five-year, $557,000 award will advance Hosseini’s research to address problems at the intersection of computer science, artificial intelligence and economics. In his broader work, Hosseini studies different aspects of self-interested players in multiagent systems and develops algorithms and theoretical techniques to achieve desirable societal guarantees. The CAREER award will support his efforts to explore robust fairness in matching and allocation markets — where goods, services or resources must be distributed among multiple parties driven by factors beyond price.
“I see fairness as one of the key societal issues; it arises in all types of settings involving humans, institutions and AI agents—from data sharing to distribution of equipment to the assigning of college courses,” said Hosseini. “The goal is to make fair decisions — even when the preferences of involving parties are conflicting.”
Hosseini aims to draw from existing computational and game-theoretical techniques to develop novel foundational algorithmic solutions to address a variety of allocation and matching problems. He will investigate how a computational system could be designed to fairly distribute resources when the preferences of different parties involved are noisy, or uncertain; for example, distributing the COVID-19 vaccine to multiple medical facilities that each has an unknown demand or supply. He will also work to propose an approach to help guide decision-making when social planners are unaware of how many resources are available or when they’ll be available; for example, how to fairly distribute perishable food bank items — which may be donated sporadically — in a timely fashion.
Additionally, he will explore domains that demand maintaining group fairness when there are diverse requirements from multiple participants and the strategic behavior of self-interested participants could drastically hinder the stability, fairness or efficiency of the decisions; for example, in a gig economy where freelance and flex workers have preferences of what shifts they work or what types of jobs they want to pick up, while the company hiring them has their own preferences of when work must be completed or how much they will pay.
“These problems have been tackled in the past mostly in static environments with complete information, but they haven’t been studied from the fairness perspective, particularly to ensure robustness towards noisy preferences, uncertainty of resources and strategic behavior,” said Hosseini. “We want to make sure that the collective decision-making is fair in the sense that all participants or stakeholders are treated in a fair manner.”
Hosseini views the CAREER award as recognition of his early career success in research and teaching, and as motivation for his future work.
“In my opinion, CAREER awards are recognition of the quality of past work, and a sort of validation of the grand vision that you’re going to build in the next few years,” he said. “Being able to communicate these types of algorithmic solutions that provide provable guarantees for a variety of social issues to my students and the public excites me.”
Hosseini came to Penn State in 2020 from Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was an assistant professor in the computer science department. Prior to that, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University and worked as an adjunct instructor and instructional developer at the University of Waterloo. He holds a doctorate in computer science from the University of Waterloo.
At Penn State, he is the director of the FAIR Lab, an associate director for the Center for Artificial Intelligence Foundations and Engineered Systems (CAFE) and an affiliate of the Computer Science Theory Research Group and the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences.