University of Texas at Austin


Announcing the Center for Autonomy and the OPTIMUS Center

By Rebecca Riley

Published March 9, 2023

The Oden Institute is proud to announce the creation of two new research centers: the Center for Autonomy and the OPTIMUS Center

The Center for Autonomy, which expanded from the former Autonomous Systems Group, brings together several researchers who address fundamental challenges in developing autonomous systems through contributions in controls, machine learning, game theory, information theory, and formal methods. 

The OPTIMUS Center solves problems at the interfaces of OPTimization, Inverse theory, Machine learning, and Uncertainty quantification for complex Systems. This center conducts research on computational theory and algorithms and applies these methods to challenging scientific and engineering problems governed by large-scale models. 

“The Oden Institute has been home to multiple groups with diverse and robust research in autonomy. The Center for Autonomy is the convergence of these groups,”  said Ufuk Topcu of the Center for Autonomy. “Its primary objective is to create a unified front in attracting the best researchers to UT Austin and empowering them to solve the pressing problems toward developing autonomous systems that can make a net positive impact.”

“OPTIMUS means best in Latin - an appropriate way to characterize the algorithms we develop,” said Omar Ghattas, who is the Director of the OPTIMUS Center. “These algorithms aim to explore parameter space to infer the best model of a physical system from observational or experimental data, or the best data acquisition strategy to inform models and their predictions, or the best design or control of a system.” The Center for Computational Geosciences and Optimization previously led by Omar was retired effective December 31, 2022.

Oden Institute researchers Takashi Tanaka, Renato Zanetti, Atlas Wang, and David Fridovich-Keil are joining Topcu in the Center for Autonomy. Oden Institute researchers Thorsten Becker, Raghu Bollaprogada, Patrick Heimbach, Marc Hesse, Loukas Kallivokas, Nick Alger, Peng Chen, Longfei Gao, Stefan Henneking, and Tom O’Leary-Roseberry join Ghattas in the OPTIMUS Center. 

“We are very excited to see how the Center grows and matures in the coming years!” said David Fridovich-Keil.