Prof. Milind Tambe

Milind Tambe


Professor Milind Tambe

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Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science &
Director of the Center for Research in Computation and Society (CRCS)
Harvard University.
Principal Scientist &             
Google Research.
Science & Engineering Complex      150 Western Avenue,   Allston, MA 02134



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 public Safety (2007-2017) 
Prof. Tambe and team provided the first ever applications of computational game theory for operational security. The first of these deployments was the ARMOR system of game theoretic algorithms for security (e.g., counter terrorism) which started operating at the Los Angeles LAX airport in 2007. This is one of the largest and busiest airports in the United States that serves 80 Million passengers, where ARMOR's security games provided day-to-day randomized schedules for checkpoints and canine patrols for over 10 years. This research was followed by pioneering deployments of security games used by major security agencies, including the US Coast Guard to generate patrols in ports such as New York and Boston since 2011, the US Federal Air Marshals for scheduling air marshals on US air carriers international flights since 2009 and others. This research is credited with more than $100M in savings to US agencies.
The LAX airport police, the Federal Air Marshals Service, and the US Coast Guard, have testified in United States Congress committee hearings on three separate occasions, about the utility of security games-based software for improving public safety & security (2008, 2012, 2013). See also Teamcore group home page. Since 2017, the focus of Teamcore group's security games research has shifted to AI for conservation.

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

Prof. Tambe's Teamcore group recently celebrated 25 years of research. So far, 35 PhD students have completed their theses under his supervision; he has also mentored 14 Postdoctoral researchers. Currently Prof. Tambe supervises a team of 12 PhD students and postdocs. Prof. Tambe's former students have repeatedly been best thesis award winners or runners-up at top conferences such as AAMAS.  Alumni from Teamcore group are faculty members at CMU MLD, U Chicago, CMU ISR, U Michigan, U Alberta, many other key departments, as well as at key positions in industry.
Prof Tambe also manages a group on "AI for social good" at Google Research.
Prof. Tambe's service includes National Academy of Sciences panels, blue ribbon panel to review security at LAX airport and DARPA ISAT Panels. He has also served as general co-chair for AAMAS (2004), and as a member of the board of directors of IFAAMAS, the IJCAI executive committee, the board of trustees of RoboCup Robot Soccer World Cup Federation and the steering board of the Conference on Decision and Game Theory for Security (GameSec); heGoogle India also served as associate editor, advisory board member and editorial board member of journals including the Journal of AI Research (JAIR), IEEE Intelligent Systems and the Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems (JAAMAS), and as co-editor for JAIR special track on AI and Society.
In 2013, based on their research, Prof. Tambe co-founded Avata Intelligence, which was acquired by Procore Technologies. 

Selected News Stories








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Featured Videos

Milind Tambe PhotoKDD Conference KEYNOTE: AI for Social Impact [2022, 1 hour]


     AI for maternal and child care [2022, 15 min]

JP Morgan Distinguished Lecture [2020, 57 minutes]


International Joint Conference on AI John McCarthy Award lecture
[2018, 45 min]

BBC videoUsing technology to take on poachers [2019, 3 minutes]

Cambridge Conservation Initiative Seminar [2021, 1 hour]

Current Projects