Darinka Dentcheva: Applying Mathematics to Avoid Risk
Dr. Dentcheva is an expert on stochastic optimization for efficient energy production as well as risk-averse models for economic systems and medical treatment
Though it is said that fortune favors the bold, recent economic history has demonstrated the value of understanding risk. Dr. Darinka Dentcheva, Professor at the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, has worked assiduously in the area of stochastic optimization, applying mathematics to help individuals and organizations make decisions under uncertainty and risk. She has submitted numerous essential papers on the subject and has served as associate editor of SIAM Journal of Optimization for nearly a decade. The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) has now recognized her work and editorial judgment by appointing her as Associate Editor of the SIAM Review.
The SIAM Review is a quarterly journal received by all members of SIAM. According to Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge Journal Citation Reports, the SIAM Review is the most influential journal in the field of applied mathematics.
“We are very excited about Dr. Dentcheva’s appointment at the SIAM Review,” says Dr. Michael Bruno, Dean of the Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering and Science. "This appointment is a recognition by her peers of Dr. Dentcheva's accomplishments through the years, her commitment to the field, and her very high scholarly standards. Her commitment to excellence will ensure the continued high impact of the SIAM Review."
Dr. Dentcheva has applied her expertise in stochastic optimization in vital ways throughout her career. In Berlin, Germany, Dr. Dentcheva produced research on optimization of power production under varying demand. Because power production is expensive and uses scarce resources, mathematical models of power demand electricity markets are extremely important to efficiently produce energy: margins of even fractions of a percentage translate to savings of millions of dollars. Stochastic systems optimization also has multitudes of applications in military and medical problems such as sensor-placement, logistics, risk-averse models for organ transplants and cancer treatment.
Today, Dr. Dentcheva’s work is particularly relevant because of an economic environment in which parties are risk-averse yet loath to stifle earnings and growth. Dr. Dentcheva asserts that risk should not be controlled locally, but rather that strategies for risk aversion require cooperation among individuals and organizations. Her research produces more accurate mathematical models of risk to be incorporated into optimization problems related to the economic situation, and she looks toward a future that integrates those models into a system that makes our economic strategy consistent. In recognition of her work, Dr. Dentcheva has received honors and awards such as the Davis Memorial Research Award 2007 for excellence in research, several NSF awards for research on risk-averse optimization, as well as the Deutsche Akademische Austausch Dienst and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft award.
As Associate Editor of the SIAM Review, Dr. Dentcheva is broadening the scope of the journal to include more work on stochastic optimization and control, as well as research that incorporates probability and stochastic models. Dr. Dentcheva collaborates with colleagues who include some of the most respected researchers in the field.
“The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics has in its appointment of Dr. Dentcheva as Associate Editor of the SIAM Review recognized her high standing in the field of applied mathematics and acknowledged the impact of her work here at Stevens,” says Dr. Alexei Miasnikov, Director of the Department of Mathematical Sciences.
Dr. Dentcheva finds that the opportunity to bring her work with the SIAM review back into her classroom at Stevens is invaluable. “Everybody is interested in what they can do with their studies after they graduate, and seeing the implementation of theoretical research is very appealing for a student,” says Dr. Dentcheva. For instance, in her linear algebra course she has used an article about eigenvectors to demonstrate viscerally an application of a mathematical concept—namely the math behind the algorithm that Google uses to put the most useful search results first.
Several years ago Dr. Dentcheva suggested the graduate program on Stochastic Systems Analysis and Optimization. About two years later, the National Science Foundation announced its own cross-cutting program on stochastic systems in the division of mathematical sciences. Dr. Dentcheva notes, “It shows that we are on the right track with strategic directions.”
The Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens currently accepts students for its undergraduate programs as well as its Master of Science and Doctoral programs.