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CompSustNet is a research network sponsored by the National Science Foundation through an Expeditions in Computing award. Thirteen U.S. academic institutions led by Cornell University, along with many national and international collaborators, are exploring new research directions in computational sustainability.

Interdisciplinary, multi-investigator research teams are focusing on cross-cutting computational topics such as optimization, dynamical models, big data, machine learning, and citizen science. These methods are being applied to sustainability challenges including conservation, poverty mitigation and renewable energy.

CompSustNet builds on the work of the Institute for Computational Sustainability (ICS), which started the field through one of the first NSF Expeditions awards in 2008. The virtual research lab includes educational, community building, and outreach activities to ensure that computational sustainability becomes a self-sustaining discipline.

CompSustNet research areas


Upcoming Events

Computational Sustainability Virtual Seminar Series

CompSust Open Graduate Seminar (COGS)

Data Science Africa (DSA) 2018

Eco-Informatics Summer Institute (EISI)

AI for Wildlife Conservation (AIWC) Workshop at the Federated AI Meeting (FAIM-18)

USC CAIS 2018 Summer Visiting Fellows Program


Oceanic plastic trash conveys disease to coral reefs

Cornell Chronicle (CornellCast) - Jan 25, 2018



Aditya Grover, Ramki Gummadi, Miguel Lazaro-Gredilla, Dale Schuurmans, Stefano Ermon (2018). Variational Rejection Sampling. Proceedings of the Twenty-First International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (PMLR). [pdf]

Aditya Grover, Todor Markov, Peter Attia, Norman Jin, Nicolas Perkins, Bryan Cheong, ... Stefano Ermon (2018). Best arm identification in multi-armed bandits with delayed feedback. Proceedings of the Twenty-First International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Statistics (PMLR). [pdf]

Soroush Alamdari, David Shmoys (2018). A Bicriteria Approximation Algorithm for the k-Center and k-Median Problems. Approximation and Online Algorithms (WAOA 2017). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-89441-6_6.

Sample Projects

Materials Discovery
Phase map identification problem

Photo: John Gregoire (JCAP/Caltech)

What: Rapid characterization of crystal structures from high-throughput X-ray diffraction experiments.
Why: Identify new materials for fuel cells, energy storage, and solar fuel generation.
How: Pattern decomposition, constraint and probabilistic reasoning, crowdsourcing.

Smart Grid
Solar farm

Photo: DOE

What: Power grid modeling, control, and energy storage.
Why: Managing the power system with increasing use of renewable sources of electricity.
How: Stochastic optimization, sequential decision making, pattern decomposition.

Big Data for Africa
Weather station installation

Photo: Frank Annor (TAHMO)

What: Deploy 20,000 low-cost weather stations across Africa.
Why: Improve weather predictions, which is directly related food security.
How: Optimal placement, bayesian networks, multi-scale probabilistic modeling.

Landscape-Scale Conservation
Andean Bears

Photo: Santiago Molina

What: Socio-ecological corridor in the Ecuadorian Andes.
Why: Protect endangered Andean bear and other species in a significant biodiversity hotspot, while improving livelihoods of local communities.
How: Spatial capture-recapture, stochastic optimization, spatio-temporal modeling.

Green Security Games
Anti-peaching patrol simulation

Photo: USC Teamcore

What: Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS).
Why: Provide randomized patrol routes to combat poaching activity and protect wildlife.
How: Game theory-based analysis, spatio-temporal analysis, human behavior modeling, optimization.

Microbial Fuel Cells

Photo: Hong Liu (OSU)

What: Planning Algorithms for Resource Constrained Experimental Design.
Why: Efficiently identify biological and physical characteristics that maximize energy production from wastewater treatment.
How: Bayesian response surface modeling, budgeted optimization, simulation matching.

Examples of cross-cutting computational themes and projects

Computational themes and interactions