It is a pleasure to introduce the latest edition of LIDS|All. Over the past year, LIDS has thrived both within the lab and beyond: Our students and faculty have received many prestigious awards. We have hosted workshops on topics from power systems to the Internet of Things. We have gained momentum in our student activities, enriching life at the lab. And we are continuing our initiatives to foster better connections with the alumni community. On the educational front, LIDS faculty have played a central role in launching, under the umbrella of IDSS, an online MicroMasters program in Statistics and Data Science.

The intellectual community at LIDS keeps growing, as well — growth that has been facilitated in many ways by our relationship with IDSS, which continues to broaden and enhance the impact of our community and our research. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Suvrit Sra (previously a Principal Research Scientist) into his new capacity as an Assistant Professor, and Sasha Rakhlin (formerly a Visiting Professor), who joined MIT and LIDS as an Associate Professor, both of them exceptional scholars in the broad areas of machine learning and data science. Luca Carlone (previously a Research Scientist) also joined the ranks of MIT faculty this year as an Assistant Professor. His research centers on computational perception and autonomy for mobile robotics platforms, such as self-driving cars and autonomous drones. In addition, Cathy Wu accepted an Assistant Professor position with MIT, and will start a year from now, with a focus on intelligent systems and machine learning for critical societal infrastructures such as transportation systems. Finally, Marija Ilic, a world-expert on power systems, has been appointed a Senior Research Scientist, the highest level of MIT research positions. Additionally, we are strengthening the ties between LIDS and a number of faculty from other laboratories across MIT, whose intellectual agenda aligns with our own.

Our growth is not an accident. Many of the spectacular recent advances in data science and machine intelligence are all about systems that process information, and then make inferences and decisions. LIDS-type research provides much of the methodological core that underlies such developments, illustrating, once again, that despite tremendous changes in the technological landscape, many of the fundamental ideas and tools are timeless.

In this issue you will find several interviews that speak directly to the value and robustness of LIDS-style research — including from graduate students Jehangir Amjad, whose work applies Robust Synthetic (statistical) Control to a unique range of applications, and Qingkai Liang, who studies the fundamental performance limits of networks. In addition, you will read about Prof. Ali Jadbabaie’s work using systems theory to model and predict sociopolitical phenomena; Prof. Philippe Rigollet’s wide-ranging research in statistics; alum Hoda Eydgahi’s path to Silicon Valley; our new Administrative Officer Rich Lay; postdoc Stefania Bartoletti’s research on passive path tracking in GPS-challenged environments; and alum Emilio Frazzoli’s ventures (both academic and industrial) in autonomous vehicle design.

I hope you enjoy reading these highlights of our activities, and learning more about the people and research that make LIDS such a special place.

Sincerely,
John Tsitsiklis, Director
Clarence J. Lebel Professor of Electrical Engineering