B. Aditya Prakash, an assistant professor of computer science in the College of Engineering, is being celebrated as one of 10 young stars in the field of artificial intelligence by IEEE Intelligent Systems. 

The technical magazine named Prakash, who is also a faculty member at the Discovery Analytics Center, to the prestigious AI’s 10 to Watch list for his contributions to understanding, reasoning, and mining the phenomenon of propagation over networks in diverse real-world systems.  

Each researcher on the biannual list — with representatives from both academia and industry — completed doctoral work within the past five years; has made impressive research contributions; and has had an impact in the literature of the field and in some cases, in real-world applications as well.

Prakash joined Virginia Tech in 2012. He earned a doctorate in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University and a bachelor of technology in computer science and engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai.  

Data mining, applied machine learning, and databases, with emphasis on big-data problems in large real-world networks and time-series, are among Prakash’s research interests. One particular area of his focus is studying and controlling spreading processes over networks, as they occur in multiple areas like epidemiology and public health, cybersecurity, and social media.

Some of the questions Prakash's research seeks to answer relate to designing data-driven immunization policies for the spread of influenza on population networks, predicting volume of malware attacks on computer systems, detecting viral memes quickly on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and identifying failure “hotspots” in infrastructure networks.

Prakash’s interdisciplinary research addresses questions related to propagation phenomena on networks by drawing concepts and techniques ranging from theory, algorithms, and systems, to machine learning, statistics, and nonlinear dynamics.

He has written more than 60 refereed papers in major venues, holds two U.S. patents, and has given four tutorials at leading conferences.

In 2015, he co-authored “The Global Cyber-Vulnerability Report,” published in ACM TechNews in collaboration with researchers at Dartmouth and the University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies. The report established metrics to measure and quantify the cyber vulnerability of countries; offered useful data-driven policy advice for lawmakers and policymakers in each country; and was the first to use cyber vulnerability data to explore the vulnerability of more than 4 million machines per year, covering a two-year period.

“Networks are a great abstraction for modeling many real-world phenomena. The recent explosion in the availability of data presents a unique opportunity to conduct large-scale studies using these models,” said Prakash. “My work uses networks to help bridge the sore gap between data and actionable policies and insights in crucial areas. It also shows how basic computer science and artifical intelligence research can indeed connect to wider scientific, commercial, and social needs.”

Earlier this year, Prakash received an NSF CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation to help improve national security and public health.

His research has been supported by the Department of Energy, the National Security Agency, the National Endowment for Humanities, and by cybersecurity industry leaders like Symantec. He received a Facebook Faculty Gift Award in 2015. Prakash’s work has also received a best paper award and four best-of-conference selections and multiple travel awards at well-known conferences including ACM SIGKDD, IEEE ICDM and SIAM SDM.

The 10 on the AI’s to Watch list were nominated by senior artificial intelligence researchers in academia and industry and chosen by a committee comprised of members of Intelligent Systems’ advisory and editorial boards. The list is published every two years.

Written by Barbara L. Micale

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