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Lecture: Sparking social impact by using math to align incentives

March 5 @ 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
About the lecture
The scale of national and international societal problems can be daunting. One person, or even a small team, are minuscule relative to the number of people who require assistance. There is an area close to mathematics, however, which devises solutions in which problems solve themselves even through self-serving human behavior: Game Theory.

The speaker is a pure math professor and researcher who transitioned to using Game Theory to develop new solutions for large-scale real-world problems. He will talk about his experience going from the ivory tower of academia into the practical mess of the real world, where he ultimately innovated fundamentally new approaches to pandemic control ( and advanced math education (

This talk is designed for the general community, to demonstrate the importance of supporting even the purest of university research, and to show multiple examples of the impact that strong research universities can have in the real world.

About the speaker
Po-Shen Loh is a social entrepreneur and inventor, working across the spectrum of mathematics, education, and healthcare, all around the world. He is a math professor at Carnegie Mellon University, and the national coach of the USA International Mathematical Olympiad team. He has pioneered innovations ranging from a scalable way to learn challenging math live online at comparable engagement to live-streaming entertainment, to a new way to control pandemics by leveraging self-interest.

As an academic, Po-Shen has earned distinctions ranging from an International Mathematical Olympiad silver medal to the United States Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. His scientific research considers a variety of questions that lie at the intersection of combinatorics (the study of discrete systems), probability theory, and computer science. As an educator, he was the coach of Carnegie Mellon University’s math team when it achieved its first-ever #1 rank among all North American universities, and the coach of the USA Math Olympiad team when it achieved its first-ever back-to-back #1-rank victories in 2015 and 2016, and then again in 2018 and 2019. His research and educational outreach takes him to cities across the world, reaching over 10,000 people each year through public lectures and events, and he has featured in or co-created videos totaling over 19 million YouTube views.

Po-Shen received his undergraduate degree in mathematics from Caltech in 2004, master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 2005, Ph.D. in mathematics from Princeton in 2009, and has been on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon University ever since.


March 5
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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