Six researchers from the University of Maryland have been selected to receive Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Program Awards:


The University of Maryland's Department of Computer Science is part of a cross-institutional team selected by the Department of Defense for the 2024 Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) program. This initiative will support the team's project, "Algorithms, Learning and Game Theory: The Foundations of Multi-Agent Systems," focusing on theory and algorithms for learning and decision-making in multi-agent systems. Selected projects for the MURI program are expected to receive an average of $7.5 million over five years, encouraging collaborative research across various academic disciplines.  

Collaborators on the project from UMD include Computer Science Professor Mohammad Hajiaghayi and Associate Professor Soheil Feizi

“I am truly excited to have won this MURI grant, especially in one of the most competitive areas, given the popularity of machine learning and game theory,” shared Hajiaghayi, who holds the Jack and Rita G. Minker Professorship. “It appears we were the top choice in our category. The team, comprising exceptional individuals from Columbia, MIT, CMU, UCSD, and UMD, was already outstanding in previous collaborations. And now we have an even greater opportunity to work together over the next five years.” 

Since its inception in 1985, the MURI program has been instrumental in promoting interdisciplinary research efforts addressing the unique challenges of the Department of Defense. By encouraging teams of investigators from different disciplines to collaborate, the program has facilitated the development of innovative technologies and contributed significantly to military capabilities and commercial sector applications.

“It’s an honor to be a part of such an interdisciplinary team aiming to make principled connections between deep learning and game theory in the multi-agent learning context,” Feizi said. “The opportunity to collaborate with experts from other institutions enriches the project, bringing a wide array of perspectives and expertise to the table.”

The MURI program is highly competitive and complements the DoD’s single-investigator basic research grants. Over the years, it has been responsible for numerous achievements with broad-ranging impacts. Notable contributions include advancements in cold-atom quantum methods, which hold promise for quantum sensing and communication, and breakthroughs in pulsed magnetic field propagation and Doppler radar detection that have led to new landmine detection physics. 

Original news story by Samuel Malede Zewdu, Department of Computer Science


A team led by Minta Martin and Distinguished University Professor Balakumar Balachandran has been selected for a Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Program Award, with sponsorship by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).  

Balachandran is leading researchers from four universities on a project entitled "Disorder-Influenced Collective Dynamics of Nonlinear Oscillator Systems." Other members of the team from UMD include Wilson Elkins Professor Miao Yu (mechanical engineering/Maryland Robotics Center/Institute for Systems Research),  and Professor Maria Cameron (mathematics). Participating universities also include the San Diego State University, University of California, Irvine, and the University of California, Los Angeles. 

The overall research goal is to develop a comprehensive framework informed and enabled by dynamical systems theory, experimental investigations, and brain-inspired computing paradigms, to understand and harness disorder-influenced collective dynamics in nonlinear networks.

Collective dynamics of oscillator networks is relevant to many areas and applications, including networks of gyroscopes, precision timing devices, miniature antennas, and enhanced multi-functional sensing networks. Material advances have spurred researchers to envision, design, and fabricate smaller, faster, and energy-efficient devices. As device advancement needs grow, network systems have become attractive for overcoming limits of fundamental performance. Although the promise of harnessing collective dynamics of networks is appealing, disorder effects that arise due to parameters and/or noise remain to be fully investigated. Furthermore, a well-developed theoretical framework is necessary to better understand disorder-influenced collective dynamics of networks of nonlinear oscillators.

The team plans to employ equivariant bifurcation theory, study different network models with disorder, construct mathematical and computational tools for large oscillator networks, and conduct experimental studies with Josephson junction networks, optomechanical oscillator networks, heterogeneous optical resonator networks, and mechanical oscillator arrays.

The research outcomes, which will include the development of a  foundational basis to understand disorder-influenced dynamics in complex systems, can benefit a wide range of systems and applications (e.g., optical sensing systems, coupled inertial navigation sensor systems, precision timing systems, chip scale nano-photonic devices, fluxgate magnetometers, Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs), and communication devices).

Professor Balachandran is a faculty member of the UMD Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Applied Mathematics and Scientific Computing Program. He is a recipient of major  honors from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (Melville Medal, Den Hartog Award, Lyapunov Award), the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (Pendray Aerospace Literature Award), and the American Society of Civil Engineers (Robert Scanlan Medal). His publications include a Wiley book entitled Applied Nonlinear Dynamics: Analytical, Computational, and Experimental Methods (1995, 2004). He is a Fellow of ASME, AIAA and the Royal Aeronautical Society. Balachandran chaired the UMD mechanical engineering department, which is part of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, from 2011 to 2023.

The MURI program supports interdisciplinary science and engineering research, with the goal of stimulating innovation, accelerating research progress, and expediting the transition from research to application.  This year, the DoD will distribute $221 million in awards to 30 teams from 73 academic institutions.

Original news story published by the A. James Clark School of Engineering


Professor Edo Waks has been awarded a Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) Program Award.  His proposal will be sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR).  This year, the DoD will distribute $221 million in awards to 30 teams from 73 academic institutions.

Waks will lead a team of researchers from multiple universities on a project titled “Piezoelectric Control of Quantum States in Solid-State Defects (PIQS)”.  The goal of their research is to interface piezoelectric materials with semiconductors for integrated quantum systems.

Quantum properties of solid-state defects can be manipulated and enhanced by electromechanically active materials that directly modify their quantum state. Control of electron and nuclear spin is vital for spin-based quantum information processing.  To create optimal applications though, thin-film electromechanical actuators must be integrated with spin-host materials with exceptional optical and spin properties.  The electromechanical actuators must be able to withstand cryogenic temperatures, where solid-state defects are most apparent.

The team plans to create next-generation, multi-functional hybrid devices composed of optically active solid-state spin qubits integrated with superior host materials that efficiently interface to cutting-edge thin-film electromechanical actuators.  These devices enable direct control of the quantum states of optically active spin defects, enabling mechanical manipulation of electronic and spin states.  Using optimal and compatible spin hosts and actuator materials will result in exceptional mechanical strain transfer to the solid-state defect.   

Ultimately, the project will lay a foundation for future development of large arrays of solid-state spin qubits with long coherence times and the ability to emit indistinguishable photons that mediate quantum entanglement.  These applications will be relevant to the development of solid-state quantum information processors and quantum networks.  

Professor Waks is the Associate Director of UMD’s Quantum Technology Center. He holds joint appointments with the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics, the Joint Quantum Institute and the Department of Physics.  In 2023, he won the UMD Quantum Invention of the Year Award with Uday Saha (ECE Ph.D. ’22) for their Low Noise Quantum Frequency Conversion Scheme for Trapped Ion Quantum Network. Other awards include a DURIP Award for Research Instrumentation, a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and a NSF CAREER Award.  He is a Fellow of APS and NFS and a member of Tau Beta Pi.

Original news story published by A. James Clark School of Engineering

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