LBS faculty selected for major funding award

Dr Ali Aouad’s ERC Starting Grant will further his work in algorithm design and collaboration with cultural institutions

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London Business School Assistant Professor of Management Science and Operations Ali Aouad has been selected for funding by the European Research Council (ERC) to research new frontiers of algorithm design and operations with applications to cultural institutions.

The ERC Starting Grant, valued at €1.2million over five years, will enable Dr Aouad to study “pathway operations”.

Matching a customer with products or services is a routine task for algorithms. Managing repeated interactions with long-term outcomes is more complex to model and optimise. This would open new application areas such as cultural settings, which remain underexplored.

“Algorithms in marketplaces are usually focused on recommending you buy a product. The question is whether technology could be used more broadly to shape a journey in physical and digital spaces, like visiting a museum or browsing through digital art,” Dr Aouad said.

Dr Aouad will focus on designing algorithms that support these pathway operations and work with art institutions on real-world applications.

“In the future, we might see museums offer routes tailored to visitors according to their particular interests or art galleries create personalised virtual exhibitions,” he said.

This project builds on Dr Aouad and his research collaborators’ existing work with a major museum in the Netherlands. He would also like to hear from UK cultural institutions interested in partnering with him on the research project.

Dr Aouad’s research interests are in the interface of algorithm design under uncertainty and the operations of digital platforms such as retail and matching marketplaces. He has held visiting positions in several research institutions (Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing and Stanford Graduate School of Business) and previously worked for technology and consulting firms, including Uber Technologies and Boston Consulting Group.