Viterbi News Article: Milind Tambe Honored for Security Research

October 4, 2010

"Professor Tambe's idea, his work, has now gained national level recognition," said Shanghua Teng, chair of the Department of Computer Science

Milind Tambe at Washington D.C. award ceremony

Milind Tambe, professor of computer science and of industrial and systems engineering at te USC Viterbi School, has been awarded the 2010 Homeland Security Award for Border and Transportation Security for systems that make patrols, searches and checkpoint locations less predictable.

The system has been deployed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) since August 2007, by the Federal Air Marshals Service since October 2009, and is currently under evaluation by the Transportation Security Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Tambe's research was funded through the USC-based Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), the Department of Homeland Security's first University Center of Excellence.

"After our local LAX Airport Police recognized the brilliance of Professor Tambe's idea, his work has now gained national-level recognition. I am so proud of him and his team," said Shanghua Teng, professor and Chair of the Viterbi School's Department of Computer Science. "I would also like to point out that the system developed by his team is based on fundamental and interdisciplinary techniques from game theory, AI, optimization, and algorithms. It is a great display of the importance of fundamental research."

"I am deeply honored to receive this award," said Tambe. "It is a tremendous shot in the arm for our use-inspired research approach: pushing forward this synergy of basic research in computational game theory and Artificial Intelligence, with practical deployed applications in service of homeland security," he continued.

"I am thankful to our collaborators at TSA, FAMS, LAX police and others, as well as the DHS office of university programs and our program manager at the DHS science and technology office for their continued support of our research, and for putting together these wonderful partnerships of unversity researchers with security practitioners.".

The results of Tambe's use-inspired research are three systems called Assistant for Randomized Monitoring Over Routes (ARMOR); Intelligent Randomization in Scheduling (IRIS); and Game-theoretic Unpredictable and Randomly Deployed Security (GUARDS).

ARMOR is a computer program that applies game theory insights to systematically make it extremely difficult for observers to find any patterns or regularities in scheduled operation such as the patrols of security personnel. IRIS implements game-theoretic schedules for the U.S. Federal Air Marshals and GUARDS for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Tambe received his award October 5 in the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.  The award is sponsored by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation and AgustaWestland North America, a defense firm.

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is an independent Federal government agency established by Congress in 1992 to “encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind.” Governed by a Presidential appointed Board of Trustees, the Foundation has established Frontiers of Discovery—Work in Progress and Discover the Future programs that recognize “cutting edge” innovations, innovative ideas of America’s youth, and honors teachers. These programs include the Homeland Security Awards, Agriscience Awards, Life Sciences Awards and Christopher Columbus Awards. Visit:

Read Viterbi News Article

See also: 2010