mjm458 AT cornell.edu
Growing Up

I was born and raised in northeast Ohio, which explains why I am a fan of the Cavaliers and the Indians; much of my family is from Pittsburgh which explains why I love the Steelers (I consider myself a fair-weather Penguins fan). My parents, Laurel and Jason, and my brother, Kevin, still live in the area, though Mom and Dad spend much of the year in Florida (which is somewhere that I would much rather visit).

In 2003 I moved to Chicago for my undergraduate time at the Illinois Institute of Technology. I absolutely love Chicago and the great friends and professors that I met during that time. The applied mathematics department there is a great place to learn and engage with brilliant minds, though many of the professors I met have moved on in the past 17 years. Even so, I stay in touch with many and continue to collaborate with as many as I can.

I did grad school at Cornell University in 2007 under under Charlie Van Loan>; Dr. Van Loan taught me a lot, though I did not always understand it at the time. While I did very much enjoy learning from Dr. Van Loan and the numerous other outstanding professors at Cornell, I did not much enjoy living in Cornell --- fortunately, the generous administration at Cornell and Dr. Van Loan were flexible and kind enough to let me pursue my Ph. D. research at Argonne National Labs.

Moving Around

From 2010-2013, I was at Argonne's math and computer science department as a graduate student, working with Lois Curfman McInnes and Hong Zhang. I worked on computational mathematics tools for running multiphysics simulations; my thesis is available online, though I think this is an infinitely better introduction to the topic. I also was fortunate enough to teach some classes at IIT, which helped balance out my minimal time physically being (and teaching) at Cornell. I really want to thank everyone at Cornell, Argonne and IIT who supported me in my unorthodox path through graduate school.

In fall 2013 I took a postdoc position at University of Colorado-Denver, where I was given time to write a book, Kernel-based Approximation Methods Using Matlab, along with Gregory Fasshauer (who I have known since my time as an undergrad at IIT). As part of my time at Denver, the department sent me to Beijing to teach at our partner school, 中国农业大学 China Agricultural University. That experience was one of the best of my life and I thank both universities for giving me the opportunity to study and teach in Beijing.

This is as good a time as any to mention that I have spent numerous chunks of my life in Hong Kong, first as an undergraduate, then as a grad student. I go back as often as possible, most recently in the professional context to participate in the Johns Hopkins CTY program at HKU. I think of Hong Kong as my second home and my favorite place in the world; the image below recalls one of my fondest memories of my time there.

Mike with the REU group
New Adventures

I am an academic at heart, but I have been thoroughly enjoying the world of industry since 2015 when I joined the research team at SigOpt in San Francisco. SigOpt is a company created to "Empower the world's experts" by providing them software and guidance to perform an adaptive design of experiments for identifying high performing strategies. Our customers come from a variety of communities, including tech companies, financial companies, government institutions, national labs, and universities (we have a free academic program).

I absolutely love working at SigOpt. This has been an incredible opportunity for me to explore the world of industry while supported by brilliant teammates. When I arrived, I was not an ML expert, and I still would not call myself an ML expert, but I have learned about the beautiful interplay between math and statistics and learning theory and practical situations which leads to enterprise-grade software. I cannot thank enough Scott (CEO) and Patrick (CTO) for bringing me on board; the next 5 years at SigOpt will be even better than the first 5.

The next 5 years at SigOpt will, however, take place within Intel. In October 2020, SigOpt was acquired by Intel, and we now are titled "SigOpt, an Intel company". The COVID pandemic has not dampened our desire to help people make their best choices through intelligent experimentation. I have, however moved from San Francisco to Honolulu, as our team is fully remote, for the immediate future.