Sheldon Howard Jacobson Ph.D.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign






Founder Professor in Computer Science

Director, Bed Time Research Institute

Director, Institute for Computational Redistricting

Director, Simulation and Optimization Laboratory
201 North Goodwin Avenue (MC-258)
University of Illinois

Urbana, Illinois 61801-2302

Telephone: (217) 244-7275

Fax: (217) 265-4035

Skype: sheldon.jacobson1


Twitter: @shjanalytics


Google Scholar Page

Scopus Page

Wikipedia Page

Recent CV

For the Media: Areas of Expertise

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 Mathematics (College of Liberal Arts and Science)

Professor of Statistics (College of Liberal Arts and Science)

Professor, Carle Illinois College of Medicine


Founding Director: Institute for Computational Redistricting (ICOR)

Founding Director: Bed Time Research Institute (BTRI)

Web Sites of Interest within the BTRI

1)       The 2020 Election is is in the books. Visit Election Analytics to see our results.

2)       What drives obesity? Visit Driving Obesity for the answer.

3)       March Madness 2021... What are your bracket odds? Visit Bracketodds for help with your Men’s and Women’s brackets.


Career Summary



Information of Interest


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.



In the News

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 and earlier


(18 June 2021) “Op-Ed: Will COVID-19 create unexpected surprises at the US Open” Published by Jacobson in Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

(17 June 2021) “Op-Ed: How breakthrough infection rates for vaccines will make a difference.” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(16 June 2021) “Op-Ed: It’s not just anti-vaxxers.  Here’s what the FDA can do to get more shots in arms.” Published by Jacobson in Indianapolis Star.

(14 June 2021) “Op-Ed: In-person academic conferences must resume this autumn.” Published by Jacobson in Times Higher Education.

(13 June 2021) “Op-Ed: Illinoisans deserve better when it comes to redistricting” Published by Jacobson in Champaign News Gazette.

(10 June 2021, Washington Times, Andy Kostka) “Public health experts: Olympics can be held safely, if changes are made.” quotes Jacobson on how the 2021 Tokyo Olympics can be held with the threat of COVID-19.

(10 June 2021) “Op-Ed: Are the recent cyberattacks just the tip of  the iceberg?” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(7 June 2021) “Opinion: Take it from Golfer Jon Rahm, not being vaccinated can be costly.” Published by Jacobson in Columbus Dispatch.

(2 June 2021) “Op-Ed: What it will take to host the 2021 Summer Olympics.” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(26 May 2021) “Op-Ed: Why it’s impossible to predict mass shootings like San Jose.” Published by Jacobson in the San Francisco Chronicle.

(26 May 2021, Christianity Daily, Sarah Mae Saliong) “Protesters Troop to Rutgers University to Rally Against Mandatory COVID Vaccines.” quotes Jacobson on the benefits of mandatory coronavirus vaccines for college students.

(25 May 2021) “Op-Ed: The government is not asking you to be a vaccine guinea pig.” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(25 May 2021) “Op-Ed: Late-pandemic insights, from an expert who writes on COVID-19.” Published by Jacobson in the Indianapolis Star.

(19 May 2021) “Op-Ed: Data supports new CDC policy” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(19 May 2021, US News, Joshua Moody) “Colleges Requiring a Coronavirus Vaccine for Fall.” quotes Jacobson on the benefits of mandatory coronavirus vaccines for college students.

(18 May 2021) “Op-Ed: The important role that data scientists have in defeating COVID vaccine skepticism.” Published by Jacobson in the Indianapolis Star.

(13 May 2021) “Op-Ed: Require COVID vaccines for all Illinois public college students.” Published by Jacobson and J.A. Jokela in the Chicago Tribune.

(12 May 2021, Business Travel News, Dawit Habtemariam) “Suppliers Say Staffing Shortages Dragging Recovery.” quotes Jacobson on how labor shortages are challenging the travel industry’s recovery.

(12 May 2021) “Op-Ed: Under the radar stories from census data.” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(5 May 2021) “Op-Ed: Why we need vaccine passports, and why they’ll never happen.” Published by Jacobson in Crain’s Chicago Business. See also Daily News Chicago (Marita Overfelt).

(5 May 2021) “Op-Ed: COVID-19 clique immunity should be the goal.” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(4 May 2021, WNEP16 ABC, Scranton, PA, Sarah, Buynovsky) “Back to work, back in buildings.” quotes Jacobson on how companies will reopen for their employees and keep everyone safe.

(27 April 2021) “Op-Ed: Why COVID-19 positivity rate may be a misleading metric.” Published by Jacobson in the Detroit News.

(22 April 2021) “Op-Ed: What’s an ideal fix for Illinois gerrymandering? An algorithmic approach.” Published by Jacobson in the Chicago Tribune.

(13 April 2021) “Op-Ed: Do college campuses still need COVID-19 surveillance testing?” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(12 April 2021, KCBS Radio, San Francisco, CA) “Ask an Expert with Stan Burger” features Jacobson on how businesses are getting employees back to work

(8 April 2021) “Op-Ed: Here’s why America’s COVID-19 immunization depends on college campuses.” Published by Jacobson and Janet A. Jokela in the Indianapolis Star.

(6 April 2021, KMBC-TV9 ABC, Kansas City, MO, Alan Shope) “Researchers believe the office is going to look different when employees return” interviewed Jacobson on how businesses will adjust when employees return to working on-site.

(1 April 2021) “Op-Ed: The greatest threat to our democracy does not reside in the White House.” Published by Jacobson in The Hill.

(31 March 2021) “Op-Ed: One U.S. airline is keeping middle seats open.  Here’s what science says about it.” Published by Jacobson in the Indianapolis Star. Also appeared in USA Today on 4 April 2021.

(24 March 2021, Eureka Alert, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences) “New Research finds seating assignments on airplanes can reduce the spread of COVID-19” based on a paper that appeared in Service Sciences. See also

·        (24 March 2021, FOX 32 TV Chicago, Anthony Ponce) “New research could make air travel safer amid pandemic.”

·        (31 March 2021, WGN 720 Radio, Chicago, IL , Anna Davlantes) “Does blocking the middle seat on airplanes make passengers safer?       

(21 March 2021, City Journal, John Tierney) “Death and Lockdowns” quotes Jacobson on non-COVID-19 excess deaths in the United States.

(3 March 2021, University of Illinois Computer Science, Aaron Seidlitz) “Jacobson’s Bracketodds research takes the madness out of March” discusses the research behind the Bracketodds web site. See also

·        (16 March 2021, 247 Sports, Jeremy Werner) “Podcast Episode 242, The Winning Formula” speaks with Jacobson discussing the analytics of picking winning brackets.

·        (16 March 2021, Fox 32-TV Chicago) “Bracket Expert gives advice ahead of March Madness”speaks with Jacobson on trends in picking winning brackets.

·        (17 March 2021, ABC 7-TV, Chicago, IL)

·        (17 March 2021, WGN 720 Radio, Anna Davlantes, Chicago, IL) “Taking the madness out of your NCAA bracket” speaks with Jacobson about the analytics in March Madness.

·        (18 March 2021, WLS 890 Radio, Bruce St. James Show, Chicago, IL) speaks with Jacobson about March Madness and bracketology.

(20 February 2021, Saturday Sports Talk with Steve Kelly and Loren Tate, WDWS AM1400, Champaign, IL) Jacobson was a guest discussing the impact of COVID-19 on the upcoming NCAA Men’s basketball tournament.

(1 February 2021, The Telegraph, Ed Grenby) “’COVID mindset’ blamed as gun seizures at US airports doubles,” quotes Jacobson on the cause of higher firearm catch rates by the TSA at airports.

(30 November 2020, WTTW News (Chicago Public Television, Amanda Vinicky) “Study Finds Rise in US Deaths Beyond COVID-19 in 2020,” reports on Jacobson’s research on excess Non-COVID-19 deaths.

(9 November 2020, New York Times, Shawn Hubler) “Thanksgiving Will Soon Empty Campuses. Will Students Bring Coronavirus Home?” quotes Jacobson on the risk of students departing college campuses for the holiday break.

(28 October 2020, Associated Press, Dave Collins) “Rising infections complicate rules for New York-area travel” quotes Jacobson on Covid-19 state travel restrictions.

(26 October 2020, NPR Marketplace Tech, Molly Wood) “Is the pandemic an opportunity for more personalized learning?” features Jacobson on the future of artificial intelligence for personalized learning.

(29 September 2020, New York Times, Janet Morrissey) “Using Technology to Tailor Lessons to Each Student” quotes Jacobson on the value of technology-driven personalized learning.

(18 September 2020, Good Morning America, ABC Network, Gio Benitez) “Last minute deals entice travelers” quotes Jacobson on the challenges of social distancing on airplanes.


Potential PhD Graduate Students

Research Opportunities in Operations Research

Secrets to Learn Before you Graduate

Prospective Graduate Students 


Visit the Media and Outreach Presentation


For a seminar on bracketology:

March Madness and Advanced Analytics: Improving Your Bracket Odds


Looking for a Ph.D. Advisor?

Zen and the Art of Hiring and Advising Graduate Students


Interested in Jacobson’s “TED-type” Talk slides?


Interested in supporting Jacobson’s research on policy, public health, societal issues, or bracketology? 

Visit Benefunder. 


Research Areas and Interests

Theory/AI Interface (Operations Research)

Advanced Analytics and Data Science (Big Data, Computational Public Health & Social Sciences, Health Informatics)

Industrial Engineering


Current Research Thrusts

Data-driven Causal Inference (BIG Data Analytics Using Discrete Optimization)

Security Screening (Data-driven Decision-making Under Uncertainty, Game Theory)

Algorithmic Political Districting (Graph Theory, Artificial Intelligence)

Branch and Bound Strategies for discrete optimization problems (Theory/Artificial Intelligence)

Bracketology Data Analytics (Sports Analytics)

Infectious Disease Screening and quarantining strategies (Decision-making Under Uncertainty)

Obesity, Energy, and Transportation (Public Health Data Analytics)

Mass Murder and Violence Trends in Society (Public Health Data Analytics)



Research (Peer Reviewed) Articles

Computer Simulation Methodology and Modeling

Discrete Optimization Algorithms (Exact and Approximation)

Stochastic Models, On-line Optimization, and Sequential Decision-Making

Aviation Security System Design and Analysis

Health Care Systems Engineering, Modeling, and Analysis

Immunization and Vaccine Economics

Transportation, Obesity, and Public Health

Causal Inference, Districting Problems, and Election Forecasting

Sports Analytics: NCAA Bracketology

Applications of Operations Research

Commentaries and Viewpoints


Other Publications

Book Chapters

Professional Magazines, Op-Eds, Letters

Conference Proceedings Papers


Professional Activities

Presentations, Seminars, and Posters

Sponsored Research

Dissertation, Theses, and Projects Directed

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

Selected Media Coverage

Teaching and Service Activities


Jacobson's Web Site on the Computer Science Web Page

For more information, send a message to
He would be happy to hear from you.



Sheldon H. Jacobson, Ph.D.

201 North Goodwin Avenue (MC-258)
University of Illinois

Urbana, Illinois 61801-2302

Telephone: (217) 244-7275

Fax: (217) 244-6869

Skype: sheldon.jacobson1


Twitter: @shjanalytics  


Last updated: 25 July 2021

First Posted: 5 June 1999