Computer science graduate student awarded dissertation fellowship

LantaoLantao Liu, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, has been awarded a Dissertation Fellowship for 2012-2013 by the Texas A&M University Office of Graduate Studies.

The fellowship will last for nine months and is designed to support awardees while they are concluding the investigation of their research topics and writing their dissertations. Liu was one of 10 students who received this award.

The dissertation fellowship consists of a stipend in the amount of $15,000 plus an additional tuition payment. During the fellowship period recipients also receive reimbursements for their student health care up to $2,056.

Liu's primary research is to design task allocation methods for distributed multirobot systems. A good task allocation strategy is an efficient coordination policy that allows a multi-robot system to behave as a synergistic whole. The associated sense of optimality, e.g., minimizing costs, gaining maximal benefits, reducing various risks, etc., has analogies to basic social considerations in human organizations.

However, next generation robots with greater autonomy/intelligence require new task allocation methods to manage coordination involving greater complexity. For instance, issues such as information sharing and communication have to be carefully considered in order to enable a robot to sense and behave as an independent unit while taking actions that help the whole. Consequently, partial and sometimes inaccurate information available to a robot undermines various objectives and optimality is no longer an easy thing to attain. Liu has been working on designing various algorithms to address these issues.

Liu's recent honors include the National ICT Australia (NICTA) Student Fellowship of 2012 Robotics Science and Systems; Outstanding Student Research Award of 2011 National Robotics Week; and the Industrial Affiliate Program (IAP) scholarship during 2009-2010. Before coming to Texas A&M, Liu graduated with highest honors (academic Silver Medalist) from the Department of Automatic Control at Beijing Institute of Technology.

Liu is supervised by Dr. Dylan Shell, the director of the Distributed AI Robotics Lab at Texas A&M. Liu will graduate in the summer of 2013.