We are about to complete another exciting year at LIDS. This was a particularly special year because of the MIT150 celebrations that brought thousands of people to MIT ranging from alumni to members of the scientific and local communities to celebrate MIT's 150th anniversary. LIDS participated enthusiastically in these festivities. In the open house on April 30th, LIDS faculty, students and staff featured our work by engaging the visiting community with creative hands-on demos, illustrating the rich variety of the research conducted at the laboratory. The displays and activities included a demonstration of drivers' responses to disruptions in transportation networks, control of distributed and mobile agents, the DARPA Grand-challenge autonomous vehicle, and a demonstration involving social behavior and optimized ranking of individual choices. It was exciting for all of us to have so many children and young adults spend a substantial amount of time at our booth watching, playing, and experimenting with these demos.
Capitalizing on the timing of the MIT150 celebrations and the leadership role that LIDS has established in defining research directions, we organized a workshop on information and decision social networks (WIDS) under the superb organization and leadership of LIDS visiting faculty, Prof. Vincent Blondel. The workshop was a great success with more than 40 presentations and poster sessions and 250 attendees, bringing together the views and research vision of a very broad community including social scientists, computer scientists, and engineers. The feedback from the community was overwhelmingly positive with requests to make this truly interdisciplinary workshop an annual event. LIDS will continue to define critical research directions in this area as well as in the area of general networked systems.
Many have asked me about my experience as acting director of LIDS. Without hesitation, I will say that I had a great experience and a very productive year thanks to the support I got from the LIDS community. I was absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to send out all the award announcements, to participate in the "Idea Forum" that was created by the students with the help of my assistant, Jennifer Donovan, to welcome Yury Polyanskiy to join our faculty, to celebrate Jennifer's Infinite Mile award, and to celebrate Debbie Deng, our Assistant Director for Administration, getting married. I enjoyed collaborating with my colleagues of faculty, research scientists, and post docs on various projects and initiatives. I particularly enjoyed the challenge of defining the scope of the "Systemic Risk" initiative and in preparing the proposal for a Science and Technology center in this area in coordination with faculty from across the MIT campus. Finally, it was a great joy to see many of our students graduate knowing that they will move on to wonderful and ambitious accomplishments.
As I move on to take on the position of EECS associate department head, I look fondly back at the last several years as part of the leadership of LIDS, jointly with Alan Willsky and John Tsitsiklis. Alan was an excellent mentor and John was a great partner. I feel this experience has prepared me well to take on the new challenge. Looking even further back at my own career at MIT and LIDS, I am extremely grateful to Sanjoy Mitter for his continuing support and for sharing his wisdom with me since I was a junior faculty. I am pleased to see that LIDS continues to provide that type of mentoring for our junior faculty.
This issue of LIDS-ALL promises a great selection of profiles of LIDS students, faculty, alumni, administrators, and friends. Their stories bring out not only the wonderful experiences that they had being members of the LIDS community but also their great contributions to the laboratory over the past many years. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading our magazine and I look forward to hearing from you in the future.
Munther Dahleh, Acting Director