Sheldon Howard Jacobson Ph.D.
Founder Professor in Computer Science
Director, Bed Time Research Institute
Director, Simulation and Optimization Laboratory
Telephone: (217) 244-7275
Fax: (217) 265-4035
ORCID ID: 0000-0002-9042-8750
Primary and Affiliate Appointments:
Professor of Computer Science
Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Professor of Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering
Professor of Pediatrics (
Founding Director: Bed Time Research Institute (BTRI)
Web Sites of Interest within the BTRI
1) What drives obesity? Visit Driving Obesity for the answer.
2) The 2016 Election is now in the books. Visit Election Analytics for a summary of what happened.
3) March Madness 2018... What are your bracket odds? Visit Bracketodds for help with your bracket.
Sheldon H. Jacobson is the Founder Professor in Computer Science, Director of the Simulation and Optimization Laboratory, and Founding Director of the Bed Time Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He holds appointments in Industrial and Enterprise Systems Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mathematics, and the College of Medicine. He has a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Mathematics from McGill University and a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University. He has served on the faculties at Case Western Reserve University (Weatherhead School of Management, 1988-1993), Virginia Tech (Industrial and Systems Engineering, 1993-1999), and the University of Illinois (1999-present). He served as Program Director for the Operations Research program at the National Science Foundation from 2012-2014.
He has published 177 peer-reviewed articles, 11 book chapters, 48 conference proceedings, 28 professional and editorial publications, and delivered over 470 presentation, seminars and posters at conferences, universities, and research laboratories around the world. He has directed 21 Ph.D. dissertations and been awarded over $4.5M of research support from the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research.
As Director of the Bed Time Research Institute, he spearheaded the creation of two research videos (“A Healthy Collaboration: Pediatric Immunization and Operations Research”, “Aviation Security: Researching the Risk.”) and launched three websites (bracketodds.cs.illinois.edu, electionanalytics.cs.illinois.edu, drivingobesity.cs.illinois.edu), all designed to communicate the value of basic research through Broader Impact activities, and promulgate STEM activities for enhancing and growing a technically literate citizenry.
He has made several seminal research contributions, all focusing on applying operations research and advanced analytics to address societal problems of national interest. He was the first researcher to analyze the costs and benefits of 100% checked baggage screening at commercial airports, determining that such policies were not viable not justifiable. His research on multi-level aviation security passenger screening at airports was the precursor to risk-based security, providing the foundational concepts that led to TSA Precheck©. His research on the design of pediatric vaccine formularies introduced the use of operations research in the pediatric immunization domain. His research on bridging obesity, transportation, and fuel consumption established the impact of transportation on obesity, providing the foundation for non-medical obesity interventions based on modes of transportation.
His research has been widely reported and communicated in the national press, including the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe, editorialized in the New York Times, and discussed in Business Week, Forbes, Kiplinger, and The Osgood Files on CBS radio. He has appeared on The Street Signs (CNBC), The Closing Bell (CNBC), Weekends with Alex Witt (MSNBC), Washington Post Radio, CBS This Morning, CBC Canada News (television and radio), and BBC World News (television and radio). He has published opinion articles and letters in the Washington Post, Quartz, CNN Opinion, Inside Higher Ed, the Wall Street Journal, and the Chicago Tribune..
He has been recognized with numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (2003), the IISE David F. Baker Distinguished Research Award (2017), IISE Award for Technical Innovation in Industrial Engineering (2010, 2013), the Aviation Security Research Award (Aviation Security International) (2002), the IIE Outstanding Publication Award (2009), and the Award for Excellence in the Teaching of Operations Research (IISE Operations Research Division) (2011). He was a runner-up for the Christopher Columbus Homeland Security Award (Transportation and Border Security) (2010). He is an elected Fellow of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS) (2013) and the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) (2011). He has also received several best paper and poster awards.
His leadership and expertise have been used by both government and professional societies. He briefed personnel within the Office of Science and Technology Policy (in the executive Office of President George W. Bush) (August 2002) on issues related to aviation security and assessing the cost and benefit of checked baggage screening strategies. He briefed the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) on a web-site he co-developed for designing optimal pediatric vaccine formularies at their October 2001 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. He served on committees for the National Academies, including the National Research Council Committee on Airport Passenger Screening: Backscatter X-Ray Machines (2013-2015) and the National Academy of Medicine (NAM) Standing Committee for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Strategic National Stockpile (2015-2017). He led the NSF-Funded workshop (May 2016), Setting a Broader Impacts Innovation Roadmap, in creating new pathways for enhancing Broader Impacts in the Engineering Directorate at the NSF. He served as the (elected) Treasurer for INFORMS (2015-2016).
Broader Impacts: How research supported by the National Science Foundation makes the world better for all. Read the Workshop Report: Setting a Broader Impacts Innovation Roadmap.
(12 March 2018) March Madness: Analytics are making picking winning brackets easier (USAToday, AJ Perez).
(12 March 2018) March Madness and Bracketology: Cheryl Raye Stout vs The Machine (WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, Morning Shift with Tony Saraiba). See also Whose NCAA Bracket Did Better: Cheryl Raye Stout vs The Machine (3 April 2018, WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, Morning Shift with Tony Saraiba).
(12 March 2018) NCAA Basketball: 2018 March Madness schedule, bracket – and how to win a tournament pool as a newbie (Mic, James Dennin).
(9 March 2018) Interview on ESPN Radio 93.5 with Sheldon H Jacobson discussing the NCAA Tournament field selection, bracket-building, and other tournament topics (Jeremy Werner Show, begins at 27:30).
(7 March 2018) March Madness Upset Prediction: New Method Using Publicly Available Statistics Outperforms Other Techniques released by the American Statistical Association, based on the paper “Identifying NCAA Tournament Upsets using Balance Optimization Subset Selection,” published in Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sport (Volume 13(2), pages 79-93.)
(1 March 2018) If US states cannot fund their universities, they must stand aside, which appeared in Times Higher Education, discusses the plight of public research universities and offers two solutions,privatization or nationally funded consortia.
(3 October 2017) Algorithms Supercharged Gerrymandering. We Should Use Them to Fix it (Daniel Oberhaus, Motherboard) reports commentary by Sheldon H. Jacobson on his algorithm research related to political redistricting. See also Can Algorithms Put a Stop to Political Gerrymandering? (Emily Moon, Pacific Standard, 4 October 2017).
(11 September 2017) Study: Congressional redistricting less contentious when resolved using computer algorithm, based on the paper “The Geo-Graph in Practice: Creating United States Congressional Districts from Census Blocks,” which will appear in Combinatorial Optimization and Applications. See also It is time to set political boundaries (Innovation Magazine, 12 September 2017), New Algorithm Makes Congressional Redistricting More Equitable to Constituents (Sioban Treacy, Electronics 360, 13 September 2017), Technology holds the key to redistricting reform (Opinion) (Jay K. Aiyer, Houston Chronicle, 3 April 2018).
Potential PhD Graduate Students
Visit the Media and Outreach Presentation
For a seminar on bracketology:
Looking for a Ph.D. Advisor?
Interested in supporting Jacobson’s research on policy, public health, societal issues, or bracketology?
For more information, send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org He would be happy to hear from you.
Sheldon H. Jacobson, Ph.D.
Goodwin Avenue (MC-258)
Telephone: (217) 244-7275
Fax: (217) 244-6869
Last updated: 11 May 2018
Counter set: 5 June 1999