The Ken Kennedy Institute's October Member of the Month, Dr Illya Hicks, is a Professor in the Department of Computational & Applied Mathematics and the former Faculty Advisor to the President.
Dr. Hicks' research interests are in combinatorial optimization, integer programming, graph theory, and matroid theory. Some applications of interests are social networks, cancer treatment, and network design. His current research is focused on using graph decomposition techniques to solve NP-complete problems and he teaches courses related to discrete optimization.
Dr. Hicks earned his PhD and MA in Computational and Applied Mathematics from Rice University, and his BS in Mathematics from Texas State University. He has received the Optimization Prize for Young Researchers from the Optimization Society, the Forum Moving Spirit Award from INFORMS, and the Presidential Mentoring Award from Rice University.
What is your favorite book?
I have a few. I like "The Parable of the Talents" by Octavia Butler, "The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead, "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin and "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin.
How do you explain your research in one sentence?
I solve problems involving relationships between people, places, and things that are easy to understand but are incredibly hard to solve.
What is your favorite aspect of your research?
The discovery of new insight or understanding that makes problems easier to solve.
What challenges do you see in your research that you didn't expect?
The patience it takes to fully understand a problem inside and out. This is not always straightforward. There are certainly underlying structures in problems that are not eager to rear their ugly heads. Furthermore, even in their discovery, it is still mathematically challenging to prove that the structure always exists given certain conditions.
What is a favorite experience with the Ken Kennedy Institute or describe a time the Ken Kennedy Institute supported you in the past?
I love the talks with the lunches where I learn of all the interesting problems my colleagues are working on.