Constantinos (“Costis”) Daskalakis, an MIT professor and CSAIL principal investigator, has won the 2018 ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award.
Announced today, the prize is awarded yearly to a computer scientist on the basis of a single recent major technical or service contribution, made at or before age 35 at the time of the contribution.
Daskalakis was honored for “proving that the computational complexity of finding Nash equilibria is the same as that of finding Brouwer fixed points, a proof since extended to several other equilibrium notions.”
“By challenging equilibrium theory, his work has triggered an ongoing reshaping of our understanding of strategic behavior, showing that computation must play an essential role in the foundations of game theory and economics.”
His research, a fusion of computer science, economics and game theory, focuses in part on how strategic behavior complicates large-scale technological systems. To study these systems, researchers typically use equilibrium concepts, and very prominently the concept of Nash equilibrium, which occurs when every player does the best they can given other players’ choices, so no player can benefit from unilaterally changing their choice.
However, Nash’s equilibrium existence proof uses something called Brouwer’s fixed-point theorem, for which no efficient algorithm is known. Alongside Goldberg and Papadimitriou, Daskalakis proved that the computational complexity of finding Nash equilibria is the same as that of finding Brouwer fixed points, a proof since extended to several other equilibrium notions. As such, Daskalakis’s work has challenged equilibrium theory by showing that Nash equilibrium is computationally intractable and thus unattainable, in general.
A native of Greece, Daskalakis received his undergraduate degree from the National Technical University of Athens and his PhD in electrical engineering and computer sciences from UC-Berkeley. He has previously received such honors as the 2018 Nevanlinna Prize from the International Mathematical Union, the 2008 ACM Doctoral Dissertation Award, the 2010 Sloan Fellowship in Computer Science, the Simons Investigator Award, and the Kalai Game Theory and Computer Science Prize from the Game Theory Society.