Graduate Profile: Sheng Liu

Sheng Liu is graduating this year with a Ph.D. in IEOR. He has just accepted a faculty position at the University of Toronto. Below, Sheng reflects on his experience at UC Berkeley and talks more about his plans for the future.

IEOR: Tell us a bit about your research. What topics are you interested in? How are you applying IEOR methods to solve them?

Sheng Liu: My research focuses on data-driven approaches in practical problems, especially those emerging from innovative business models and smart city operations, for example, on-demand last mile delivery and dock-less bike sharing. My vision is to improve operational efficiency for supply chain and urban transportation systems by combining tools from optimization, statistics, and machine learning. Some specific IEOR methods I applied in my research include combinatorial optimization, dynamic programming, robust optimization, and convex optimization.

IEOR: Tell us a bit about your work here at UC Berkeley with Professor Shen. How has his advice helped you succeed?

Sheng Liu: Talking with Professor Shen is always inspiring. He advised me everything from finding the interesting research topics to navigating relevant research papers. He is super supportive on my research projects and career development in academia. In addition, our research group has a very collaborative culture and I enjoyed our weekly group meetings a lot.I also appreciate the opportunity to discuss and work with different faculty in our department. Professor Hochbaum gave me many concrete suggestions on idea generation and paper writings.

IEOR: Congratulations on accepting a faculty position at the University of Toronto! What excites you most about being a professor?

Sheng Liu: Being able to continue working on interesting and impactful research projects is extraordinarily exciting. Also, it is cool to stand in a classroom and communicate ideas with younger generations. I am particularly excited about joining the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto because they have an excellent group of researchers and Toronto is a lovely city.

IEOR: As a new professor, how do you think the OR field will change over the coming decades? What kinds of problems do you think IEOR research can help solve over this time period?

Sheng Liu: I think OR will evolve into a more data-driven subject in the following years. OR will be infused with tools from statistics and machine learning. I have seen many researchers from different background join our community, which will definitely transform our field. It is super important that our community can embrace the new ideas and techniques. In the meanwhile, I think OR researchers will look into many important societal problems in addition to traditional manufacturing and supply chain systems. For example, climate change and sustainable urban planning are very critical and I believe OR researchers can make significant contributions in these topics.

IEOR: What will you miss most about Berkeley?

Sheng Liu: I will miss the faculty, colleagues, and many friends at Berkeley. I can not say how much I love Berkeley. Its unique culture and climate environment is amazing. I also cherish the memory of going to concerts in Greek Theater by many musicians from Bob Dylan to Arcade Fire. Lastly, I will miss the food at Berkeley :).