Welcome Qing Zhao

Qing Zhao
  • New Faculty Year: 2015

Qing Zhao, professor in Cornell’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, focuses her work on mathematical formulations of, and solutions to, engineering problems.

Zhao uses decision theory and stochastic optimization to solve problems in complex networks. Some of the challenges she has looked at come from communication networks, social economic networks, infrastructure networks such as cybersystems, and the electric power grid. Her work as the principal contributor to a decision-theoretical framework for dynamic spectrum access in cognitive radio systems has been influential and provided “simple yet optimal solutions” for an otherwise-intractable category of problems.

Zhao grew up in Xian, China. After receiving her Master’s from Fudan University in Shanghai, Zhao came to Cornell, where she earned her Ph.D. in electrical engineering in 2001. After a short excursion to industry and a postdoc experience with Cornell, Zhao joined the faculty of the University of California-Davis in 2004, where she was promoted to Full Professor in seven years. “I enjoyed my work at UC-Davis,” says Zhao, “but I am very excited about the new beginning at Cornell.”

Zhao brought several Ph.D. students with her from UC-Davis and she has already recruited several others, so she has hit the ground running at Cornell. In addition to her research into stochastic optimization and decision theory in dynamic systems, Zhao is also interested in machine learning, statistical inference, algorithmic theory, and computational techniques. “This year, I am teaching a graduate level course in Statistical Inference and Decisions,” says Zhao, “and I realize that in both teaching and research, finding the simplest, most straightforward explanation or solution to a technical problem gives me a special sense of satisfaction. My guiding principle in teaching is the quote from Richard Feynman---‘If a topic cannot be explained in a freshman lecture, it is not yet fully understood.’”

When Zhao is not teaching or doing research, she can be found reading Bertrand Russell, doing yoga, listening to music, and reciting classical Chinese poetry to her 15-month old son.

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