Research
I am a PhD candidate in Operations Research at Cornell. I work with Professor David Shmoys on topics in optimization and approximation algorithms, and plan to finish in Spring 2012. I am particularly interested in stochastic optimization problems in graphs: how well can spatial decisions be made when only probabalistic information is available? Since most of these problems are NP-hard we focus on provably-good approximations.
My recent work is on a two-stage model motivated by a planning problem in forestry: in advance of the outbreak of a fire, preventative fuel reductions can be placed on the landscape. How much and where should investments in these fuel reductions be made to best augment real-time fire-fighting resources?
During 2012-2013, 2013-2014 I will be a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College. Then I will join the faculty of the Math Department at Smith College.
Publications
- G. Spencer. "Robust Cuts Over Time: Combatting the Spread of Invasive Species with Unreliable Biological Control." To appear, AAAI Proceedings, 2012.
- D.B. Shmoys, G. Spencer. “Approximation algorithms for fragmenting a graph against a stochastically-located threat.” To appear, WAOA Proceedings 2011. Invited to Special Issue of the journal Theory of Computing Systems.
- I. Gorodezsky, R. Kleinberg, D.B. Shmoys, G. Spencer. “Improved lower bounds for the universal and a priori TSP.” APPROX-Random Proceedings 2010, pp. 178-191.
- G. Spencer, F. Su. “The LSB Theorem Implies the KKM Lemma.” The American Mathematical Monthly, 114:2 (February 2007). In submission/preparation/unpublished:
- D. Shmoys, G. Spencer. Extended Journal Version: ``Approximation algorithms for fragmenting a graph against a stochastically-located threat.'' Submitted.
- "Optimizing Exam Scheduling at Cornell University." An upcoming draft on consulting work for the Registrar's Office with David Shmoys and Bob Bland.
- My undergraduate math thesis at Harvey Mudd: "Combinatorial Consequences of Relatives of the Lusternik-Schnirelmann-Borsuk Theorem."
- Available online, unfinished: G. Spencer, F. Su. "Using Topological Methods to Force Maximal Complete Bipartite Subgraphs Of Kneser Graphs."
- Some exposition on extending from trees to graphs.
Education
- Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Candidate for PhD in Operations Research, expected completion in May 2012. M.S. in Operations Research, May 2010. PhD Minors in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. Course work includes graduate courses in Linear Programming, Algorithms (incl. topics courses in Network Flow and Scheduling), Nonlinear Programming, Revenue Management and Dynamic Programming, Computational Sustainability, Game Theory, Algorithmic Game Theory, Statistics, Stochastic Processes, and Probability.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Boston, MA. Visiting graduate student, Fall 2010.
- Harvey Mudd College, Claremont, CA. B.S. in Mathematics (Graduated with High Distinction), May 2005.
- Full CV/Resume.
Teaching
Cornell, Spring 2011: Instructor, ENGRI 1101: Introduction to Optimization. 28 students. Course included weekly homeworks, a computational lab, two prelims and a final. Teaching evaluations available on request.
Harvey Mudd College, Fall 2002-Spring 2005: Writing Center Tutor. Consulted on technical and humanities writing assignments, also fellowship and admissions applications.
Harvey Mudd College, Spring 2005: Student TA, Humanities 2. Jointly developed curriculum for a writing-based literature course during an independent study, created discussion questions, co-led class discussions, consulted with students.
Summer Institute for Mathematics at the University of Washington, Summer 2003: T.A. Topics including: Number Theory, Cryptography, Elliptic Curves, Probability, Combinatorics and Ray-tracing Software.
Contact Information
Gwen Spencer
257 Rhodes Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY, 14853
gwenspencer at gmail.com