Research and Bio
Short bio: Milind Tambe is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and Director of Center for Research in Computation and Society at Harvard University; concurrently, he is also Principal Scientist and Director "AI for Social Good" at Google Research. He is recipient of the IJCAI (International Joint Conference on AI) John McCarthy Award, AAMAS ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Autonomous Agents Research Award, AAAI (Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence) Robert S. Engelmore Memorial Lecture Award, and he is a fellow of AAAI and ACM. He is also a recipient of the INFORMS Wagner prize for excellence in Operations Research practice and Rist Prize from MORS (Military Operations Research Society). For his work on AI and public safety, he has received Columbus Fellowship Foundation Homeland security award and commendations and certificates of appreciation from the US Coast Guard, the Federal Air Marshals Service and airport police at the city of Los Angeles.
Other previous awards also include Okawa foundation award, RoboCup Scientific challenge award and IBM faculty award. Prof. Tambe has contributed several foundational papers in AI, in particular in multiagent systems, for which he has received or been nominated for best paper awards over 25 times at conferences such as AAAI, AAMAS, IJCAI, and others.
Prof. Tambe and his team's work focuses on advancing AI and multiagent systems for public health, conservation & public safety, with a track record of building pioneering AI systems for social impact. In so doing, this research has often provided the first very uses of key multiagent systems models and algorithms in the real world. Some major examples include the following:
AI for Conservation (2014 - continues)
Prof. Tambe and team were the first to apply AI models, specifically machine learning and game theory, for global scale anti-poaching efforts, as part of the PAWS project for wildlife conservation. PAWS has provided extremely effective in predicting poaching activities and recommending patrols against them. Prof. Tambe and team's decade-long collaboration on PAWS with NGOs has resulted in removing tens of thousands of snares set to trap endangered animals, in Uganda and Cambodia. For example, this work led to a 5-fold increase in snare removals in Cambodia. The SMART partnership – a collaboration of major conservation agencies -- has begun deploying PAWS in 800 wildlife parks internationally, bringing AI to the fight to save the lives of endangered animals all around the globe.PAWS was listed as "Top Tech" of 2018 by IEEE spectrum.
AI for Public Health (2016 - continues)
At Google Research India, Prof. Tambe and the Google team were the first to deploy restless bandits for public health. This work includes their collaboration with the NGO ARMMAN which focuses on maternal and child care in India. A key challenge is women drop out of ARMMAN's healthcare programs despite preventable reasons. Prof. Tambe and team are the first to use restless bandits in these large scale public health settings to show a more than 30% reduction in drop out rate. The system is actually deployed in the field and in continuous use by ARMMAN. Over 50K mothers have been assisted by this system in deployment.
Prior to this work with ARMMAN, Prof. Tambe and his team also provided the first large scale applications of social network algorithms for public health. Conducted In collaboration with social work researchers, their pioneering large-scale field study focused on spreading HIV prevention information among youth experiencing homelessness (YEH). Empirical results with 750 YEH in in Los Angeles demonstrated that their AI-guided interventions led to statistically and practically significant reductions in HIV risk behaviors compared to traditional methods.
Prof. Tambe's research has also focused on fueling and energizing the "AI for social good" ecosystem around the globe. To that end, he and his team at Google Research have started dozens of "AI for social good" projects by matchmaking AI researchers with non-profits; this includes recent kick-off of 30 new projects across 17 countries. These new projects build on earlier successes at Google Research discussed in this blog post.
Previous Research on Multiagent Systems (before 2007)
Prior to this focused work on "AI for social good", Prof Tambe's early research provided foundational models of multiagent teamwork. His JAIR 1997 "Towards flexible teamwork" won the AAMAS influential paper award (an award given out 10 years after publication of a paper). Tambe and collaborators also the foundational paper Distributed Constraint Optimization (DCOP) that started that subfield by providing the first comprehensive algorithm with quality guarantees (“ADOPT:Asynchronous distributed constraint optimization with quality gurantees” Artificial Intelligence Journal. 2005). Finally, their earlier paper introducing a novel Distributed POMDP model for teamwork won the AAMAS’02 Best paper. During this period, Prof. Tambe and team also built pioneering systems such as "Electric Elves" team of office assistants, reported in CNN, USA Today and others; built in early 2000s the office agents brought forth a number of challenges of privacy and agent autonomy, while assisting in day to day office activities.
Prior to Harvard, Prof. Tambe was the Helen N and Emmett H Jones Professor in Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). At USC, his pioneering efforts included establishing the Center for AI in Society (CAIS) at the University of Southern California, one of the first centers that focused on an interdisciplinary partnership of AI and social work. At USC he won the USC associates award for creativity in research, the highest honors the university faculty can bestow on its members for distinguished intellectual and artistic achievements.
Prof. Tambe completed his PhD from the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to that, he completed his undergraduate education at BITS, Pilani, India, which awarded him their Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Teaching and Service
Selected News Stories
- SMART conservation blog, August 2022: Predictive patrol planning for SMART: Field testing PAWS in the Rio Bravo Conservation Management Area in Belize
- Google AI blog, August 2022: Using ML to Boost Engagement with a Maternal and Child Health Program in India
- The Laxmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute, March 2022: Milind Tambe is Pioneering AI for Social Good
- Global India Times, March 2022: Milind Tambe, BITS Pilani grad, uses AI for women's health
- The Hill, February, 2022: These new technologies could transform wildlife conservation
- Voice of America, January, 2022: Wildlife Rangers Use AI to Predict Poachers’ Next Moves
- Pathcheck, January, 2022: Blog Prof. Milind Tambe, Harvard/Google AI at the PathCheck DICE Global Health Innovators seminar
- INFORMS, October 2021:Utilizing Artificial Intelligence to Solve Complex Societal Problems
- Google Keyword blog, June 2021: How we’re supporting 30 new AI for Social Good projects
- Endgadget, March 2021: PAWS anti-poaching AI predicts where illegal hunters will show up next
- Business Standard, February 2021: ARMMAN scales its AI efforts to improve maternal and child health
- The Harvard Gazette, February 2021: AI can help reduce the risk of HIV in high-risk communities
- Synced review, February 2021: AAAI 2021 Best papers announced
- CREATE, USC, December 2020: Milind Tambe is the winner of the CREATE Detlof Von Winterfeldt Outstanding Research Award
- The Brilliant, November 2020: Milind Tambe: matchmaking AI experts and non-profits can make the world a better place
- Mongabay, November 2020: Where to patrol next: ‘Netflix’ of ranger AI serves up poaching predictions
- The Economic Times, August 2020: Speed over accuracy as a testing strategy can help in better containment of Covid-19: Milind Tambe
- New York Times, August 2020 (links to this preprint): ‘It’s Kitchen Sink Time’: Fast, Less-Accurate Coronavirus Tests May Be Good Enough
- Time, July 2020 (links to this preprint): America Needs to Radically Rethink Our COVID-19 Testing Approach
- Jagran Josh, July 2020: BITS Pilani announces distinguished alumnus awards
- BBC "People fixing the world", June 2020: How tech is tackling wildlife trafficking
- Forbes, June 2020: 10 Wonderful Examples Of Using Artificial Intelligence (AI) For Good
- KNX 1070, Los Angeles, News Radio Interview, May 2020 (4 minutes): What is the right strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19?
- ABC 7, WJLA, Washington DC interview, May 2020: COVID-19 Agent-based Modeling and Simulation
- Harvard University news and Events, May 2020: What is the right strategy to limit the spread of COVID-19?
- Nature Asia, April 2020: Model finds 'middle ground' for India's lockdown exit
- The Daily Beast, April 2020: New Model Shows How Deadly Lifting Georgia’s Lockdown May Be
- Harvard University news and Events, February 2020: Coding for uncertainty increases security
- Financial Times, November 2019: Science v poachers: how tech is transforming wildlife conservation
- The Harvard Crimson, September 2019: New Computer Science Professor Milind Tambe Aims for Social Impact
- BBC World Service, Newsday, August 2019: Using Technology to Take on Poachers
- Viterbi Magazine, April 2019: AI Is For Animals - Software Created By USC Viterbi’s Milind Tambe To Thwart Poachers Could Soon Be Deployed As Part Of The Smart Platform In Up To 600 Protected Areas Worldwide
- AAAI Conference Analytics, January 2019: Who are the most-cited scholars of all time by AAAI papers?