Sunday, April 9, 2017

Terrific Talk on Location Equilibria and Networks by Basilio Gentile of ETH in Switzerland

This past Friday, we were delighted to be able to host Mr. Basilio Gentile of ETH in Zurich, Switzerland in our INFORMS Speaker Series.

His talk was on: Distributed Dynamics to Achieve Location Equilibrium.

He had come to Massachusetts for about one month and had spoken at Harvard and will be speaking at MIT at LIDS tomorrow. He had reached out to me in mid March asking whether he could visit my research group. I was delighted that we could arrange for him to give a talk. His doctoral dissertation supervisor at ETH is Professor John Lygeros, who was educated at Imperial College in London and also UC Berkeley.

His presentation was on recent work that he has done with with Dario Paccagnan, Bolutife Ogunsola, and Professor John Lygeros.  That work was inspired by my work on migration equilibrium and variational inequalities, which is gratifying. I had blogged about migration equilibrium because of the refugee crises. 

Basilio described an elegant framework for what he is calling location equilibrium, consisting of a model and a novel algorithm, supported by theory. The framework has potentially a wide range of exciting potential applications. Location equilibrium can be viewed as a type of migration equilibrium in which the costs of migration between locations are not flow-dependent, as in my work with collaborators, but are fixed. One is interested in determining, given a fixed population in the economy or network, the equilibrium population distributions at the nodes. He mentioned some very nonobvious interesting applications from taxi distributions in Hong Kong to computer server allocations.
The audience benefited greatly from the clarity of his presentation on a fascinating subject, with an excellent overview also of variational inequalities, and nice network visuals. We were especially grateful that he was able to inform the audience, consisting of researchers from the College of Engineering and the Isenberg School of Management, also on the relationships of some of the most
important equilibrium concepts from Wardrop to Nash and their linkages to location and migration equilibrium! It was terrific that some of the graduate students who had taken my variational inequalities, game theory, and networks seminar got to hear more on the subject and from a speaker from Switzerland.  Basilio is originally from Italy and has met my wonderful collaborator and Supernetwork Center Associate, Professor Patrizia Daniele.

After the talk, joining us for lunch at the University Club were: Professor Eric Gonzales, one of my colleagues in Transportation at UMass Amherst, who is a UC Berkeley PhD, and two UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter Officers: Pritha Dutta, who is the President, and Ekin Koker, who is the Vice President and Webmaster.
Then I had a chance to speak more with Basilio in my office and to show him my Supernetworks Lab.
Time flew by very quickly and he caught the bus back to Boston from UMass Amherst.

We thank Basilio Gentile for coming to speak at the University of Massachusetts Amherst!