Alum named director at major collaborative theory center

Pennock’s research is focused on designing intelligent markets to crowdsource forecasts and improve decision making.

David Pennock Enlarge
David Pennock

CSE alumn David Pennock (CSE PhD 1999) has joined the Computer Science department of Rutgers University as Professor and Director of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS). DIMACS is a collaborative center between Rutgers, Princeton University, and the research firms AT&T, Bell Labs, Applied Communication Sciences, and NEC. It was founded in 1989 with money from the National Science Foundation. Its offices are located on the Rutgers campus, and 250 members from the six institutions form its permanent members.

Pennock is currently a Principal Researcher at Microsoft. During his career, he was a founding member of three corporate basic research labs. Most recently, he was the founding Assistant Director of Microsoft Research NYC, leading the lab and serving on the global MSR leadership team for six years. He was advised by Prof. Michael Wellman.

Pennock’s research, which broadly falls under the umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI), is focused on designing intelligent markets to crowdsource forecasts and improve decision making, often combining human and machine intelligence. Pennock describes himself as an AI researcher working at the interface of economics and computation, with a strong appreciation of the importance of CS theory and related areas of mathematics and their applicability in his own research.

Pennock’s research seeks market designs with a strong game-theoretic foundation, a significant data-driven component, and a promise of practical deployment to improve society or create a new business.

Pennock is a leader in the economics and computation area of artificial intelligence, serving as Chair of the ACM Special Interest Group on the topic and co-founding and co-editing the journal ACM Transactions on Economics and Computation. He helped to initiate the fields of combinatorial prediction markets and truthful wagering mechanisms and to establish two long-standing workshops – the New York Computer Science and Economics Day and the Sponsored Search Workshop, which is now the Ad Auctions Workshop. Pennock was an early innovator in recommender systems, web analysis, and sponsored search, and he co-authored many influential publications in these areas. His 2005 paper, CROC: A New Evaluation Criterion for Recommender Systems, received a Test of Time Award honorable mention at SIGIR (the International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval) in 2014. Some of his recent work has explored truthful wagering mechanisms. He and his colleagues invented the double clinching auction (see 2017 paper) and discovered a remarkable one-to-one correspondence between wagering mechanisms and fair-division allocation algorithms like the famous cake-cutting protocol (see 2019 paper).