challenges in agriculture, in particular,
due to market failures and information
asymmetries—a consistent problem in
environmental policy. 8, 23
There are also many challenges
and opportunities in connection with
social interventions in the U.S., where
more than 40 million people live below the U.S. poverty threshold. The
U.S. also has the highest infant mortality rate and the highest youth poverty
rate in the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development, which
comprises 37 high-income economies
regarded as the developed countries.f
For example, Los Angeles County has
over 5,000 youth between the ages of 13
and 24 sleeping on the streets or living
in emergency shelters on any given day.
In the context of homeless youth drop-in centers in Los Angeles, Yadav et al. 40
propose novel influence maximization
algorithms for peer-led HIV prevention, illustrating how AI algorithms
can significantly improve dissemination of HIV prevention information
among homeless youth and have real
impact on the lives of homeless youth.
Tambe and Rice35 provide a compilation of other examples of AI for social
work concerning HIV prevention, substance abuse prevention, suicide prevention, and other social work topics.
As a final example on balancing environmental and socioeconomic issues,
consider the urban landscape, which is
far more congested than it was 10, 20, or
50 years ago. There is a critical need to
provide individualized transportation
options that have smaller carbon footprints than the automobile. One emerging alternative is bike-sharing which
allows for multimodal commute round
trips, with a great degree of individual
flexibility, as well as economic, environmental, and health benefits. These
systems have given rise to a host of
challenging logistical problems, whose
computationally efficient solution is required to make this new alternative sustainable. The algorithmic requirements
for these problems bring together issues from discrete optimization, stochastic modeling, and behavioral eco-
f Statement on visit to the U.S. by Philip Alston,
United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme
poverty and human rights (2018). Retrieved June
16, 2018; http://socialprotection-humanrights.
Figure 2. Our research is focused on three general sustainability areas depicted as the
faces of the triangle.
RenewableandSustainable EnergyandMaterials BiodiversityandConservation
and Socioeconomic Needs
Solutions to problems in each of these areas draw on a combination of three broad computational
themes, depicted as circles. Each sustainability application creates a transformative synthesis by
incorporating a combination of computational techniques from any of these themes, while each
computational technique is in turn applied to a variety of problems.
Figure 3. Subway lines highlight examples of general domain crosscutting computational
problem classes identified in our research projects, which correspond to subway stops.
Games for Mechanism Design
Modeling and Prediction
Stochastic, Probabilistic Inference,
A junction, where one project appears on multiple lines, shows how one sustainability problem can
bring together multiple computational problem classes. Similarly, each subway line shows how
otherwise disparate sustainability applications are related through computational problem classes.