• Venkat Chandrasekaran, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Electrical Engineering
    Credit: EAS Communications Office
  • Thomas Vidick, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences
    Credit: Lance Hayashida/Caltech Office of Strategic Communications

Two Named Air Force Young Investigators

Venkat Chandrasekaran and Thomas Vidick have received grants from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research through its Young Investigator Research Program (YIP). The award, given to scientists and engineers who have received their PhD in the last five years, is intended to foster creative research in science and engineering areas of interest to the Air Force.

Chandrasekaran is an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences and electrical engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. His grant will be used for a YIP project titled "Latent Variable Graphical Modeling for High-Dimensional Data Analysis."

"The analysis of massive datasets arises in a range of contemporary problem domains throughout science and technology," Chandrasekaran says. "A central objective in data analysis is to learn simple or 'concise' models that characterize the statistical correlations among large collections of variables. Concisely specified models provide useful interpretations of the relationships underlying a set of variables. However, unobserved phenomena complicate this task significantly because these extraneous variables induce relationships among the observed variables that are complex to describe. The objective of this research project supported by the Air Force is to develop principled and computationally tractable methods for statistical modeling that account for the effects of unobserved phenomena."

Vidick is an assistant professor of computing and mathematical sciences in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science. His YIP project is titled "Towards a secure quantum network."

"Developing computing devices based on the laws of quantum mechanics will dramatically upend existing communication networks in two major ways," Vidick says. "First, by providing new classes of attacks on existing cryptosystems. Second, by turning formerly impossible cryptographic tasks into game-changing possibilities. My research aims to address the following challenge: What are the protocols and notions of security that will allow efficient and secure interactions in the emerging network of classical and quantum devices?"

"I think it's fantastic that the Air Force Office of Scientific Research is recognizing the urgency of theoretical research in quantum communications and cryptography," he says. "I am honored my research has been selected for the award."

Written by Lori Dajose