10 July 2024

Giovanni Pantuso granted 10 million DKK from NNF NERD

Research project

The Novo Nordisk Foundation’s programme “New Exploratory Research and Discovery” (NERD) aims to support research projects “based on wild and unorthodox ideas that can produce new knowledge”. Giovanni Pantuso, associate professor in Operations Research, meets the NERD criteria.

Giovanni Pantuso

Giovanni calls his new research project “Optimization under Decision-Dependent uncertainty”. Or “ODD”. He describes the project like this:

“One of the main occupations of human beings is to make decisions. Most of such decisions have to be made under uncertainty, that is, before all facts are in. Mathematicians have dedicated an entire field of study, Stochastic Optimization (SO) to such decisions. The goal of this project is to significantly extend the range of decision problems SO can currently address.”

Particularly, the project will develop new models and methods for decision problems under decision-dependent uncertainty. In these problems, the (random) information available to the decision maker changes with the decisions made. These problems are currently beyond the capabilities of the available mathematical methods.

Giovanni has designed a project consisting of five independent work packages (WPs). Three of them focus on the Expansion of the available general methodology. Each of the expansion WPs considers a specific attitude towards risk (i.e., neutrality, aversion, and aversion via stochastic dominance) and develops general-purpose models and solution algorithms assuming decision-dependent uncertainty. The other two WPs focus on the Consolidation of the results obtained in the Expansion WPs. Each consolidation WP focuses on translating the general results into models and algorithms for specific, very general and highly relevant, optimization problems. These include the optimization of networks and locations.

“Altogether, the project will deliver a portfolio of models and algorithms that significantly broaden the range of decision problems we are currently able to address using mathematics,” says Giovanni.

The primary target group of this project are optimization scientists and mathematicians. They will be provided with a richer theory of the mathematics of decision-making. In the long run, after the results are consolidated and translated into practice-ready tools, the target group are general decision-makers, in e.g., the life sciences and healthcare.

Giovanni PantusoGiovanni Pantuso took his master’s degree in 2010 from Università degli Studi della Calabria (Italy). In the fall of 2010, he started a PhD program at NTNU (Norway) and in February 2014 he received a PhD in Operation Research. After that, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at DTU, the Technical University of Denmark.

In September 2015 he was employed as a postdoc here at the department, and in 2017 he was appointed associate professor in Operations Research.

The grant will allow Giovanni to hire three PhD students and two postdocs during a period of seven years. The first PhD student should start in January 2025.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation’s NERD programme

The purpose of the NERD programme is to support creative, daring, and ambitious researchers within the natural and technical sciences, at any career stage after obtaining the PhD degree. The grant is aimed at supporting a single principal investigator (PI) with ample funding and a long time horizon, providing the required long-term stability and continuity to explore truly exceptional ideas with potential application within the life sciences, health sciences, or sustainability.

The selection and processing procedures for the NERD programme differ somewhat from other NNF grant programmes. In the first round, the evaluation committee selects projects without knowing the name of the applicant or examining their CV. This minimizes bias and increases focus on the scientific idea instead.