Slobodan Mitrović Receives National Science Foundation CAREER Award

Computer science assistant professor Slobodan Mitrović has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development, or NSF CAREER Award, which recognizes early-career faculty who demonstrate the potential to act as academic role models in research and education by performing innovative research at the forefront of their field and through their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM.  

Slobodan Mitrović
Slobodan Mitrović, Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Mitrović's research focuses on algorithmic graph theory and designing efficient algorithms when memory resources are limited. The award will support a project addressing the time and efficiency problem of a computational communication issue.  

Mitrović explains that decades ago programs used to run on a single machine, but now, the data for software applications like Google Search and Amazon is spread over multiple machines. That means that every time these applications need to run, the machines need to talk to each other, which uses an extraordinary amount of computing power and time.  

Mitrović will investigate this problem by designing algorithms that can be executed on a machine with as little conversation with other machines as possible while the data is still dispersed. He says he was attracted to this big-picture problem because it needs "profoundly new ideas."  

"When my research proposal was accepted, it was truly rewarding," he said. "Knowing that experts in the field reviewed and approved the proposal validates the significance of the problems I aim to address. It makes me feel like I belong within the broader community. Importantly, the funding also aids me in pursuing, alongside my students, the questions I find truly exciting and important within computer science." 

While he is tackling just the time and efficiency problem with this project, he says a probable byproduct of cutting down how much time it takes to compute a problem is using less power. Huge networks use a lot of energy to communicate across data centers and between different computing units.  

"If you manage to bring the time down, that directly means that the software companies would have to use less computation and energy," he says. "My research is not directly solving that, but as a consequence, generally, if we have a faster algorithm, then we need less resources to solve that problem."  

Mitrović is one of three College of Engineering assistant professors to receive the five-year grant this year, joining Isaac Kim of computer science and Harishankar Manikantan of chemical engineering, and is the 19th faculty member to receive the prestigious award since 2020.  

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