Duke Kunshan professor trio receive research awards

Three Duke Kunshan University professors have received grants from China’s National Natural Science Foundation to fund their research.

Peng Sun, Luyao Zhang and Zhenghui Huo will use the funds to cover research assistants, workshops, conference attendance and other costs of studies ranging from theoretical mathematics to transportation systems and blockchain.

Dr. Peng Sun, assistant professor of data science, received 400,000 RMB to fund a two-year research project on developing an intelligent transport system that could improve road traffic flow, safety, and emissions.

Peng Sun, assistant professor of data science

Titled, A Novel Edge Intelligence Framework for Supporting Safe and Energy Efficient Intelligent Transportation Systems, the project will look at traffic management from both macro and micro perspectives.

Sun will design a system to ease road congestion using traffic flow prediction methods and create a fuel economy-aware traffic signal control system for intersections by exploiting reinforcement learning. He also aims to develop an Internet of Vehicles-enabled collaborative perception method to improve the ability of automobiles to perceive road traffic circumstances, thereby improving road safety.

“We hope our work can be applied to the real world, especially our fuel-economy-aware traffic light control methods,” said Sun. 

As well as theoretical lab work, Sun plans to test his intelligent traffic management method in the real world at an intersection, in cooperation with the Kunshan government.

Dr. Luyao Zhang, assistant professor of economics, was given a flexible budget to research trust mechanism design in blockchain, which is the underlying technology used in digital currencies. A blockchain is a digital ledger of transactions, duplicated and distributed across a network of computer systems, making the information difficult to change or hack.

Luyao Zhang, assistant professor of economics

Titled, Trust Mechanism Design on Blockchain: An Interdisciplinary Approach of game theory, reinforcement learning, and human-AI interaction, her research will evaluate the efficiency and fairness of existing blockchain mechanisms, investigate the design principles of trust mechanisms on blockchains through theoretical modelling and propose ways to achieve potentially better outcomes.

Zhang will employ game theory, reinforcement learning, and human-AI interactions during the research to provide insights into blockchain design, combining lab and field experiments to identify theoretical strategies and how they work in the real world.

“This research will expand the theoretical foundation of trust mechanism design and empower the digital transformation of Industry 4.0,” said Zhang.

The study will have real-world applications in human interactions that rely on trust, she added, including banking, insurance, voting, auctions, social media and sales.

Dr. Zhenghui Huo, assistant professor of mathematics, received 300,000 RMB towards his three-year study of the Bergman Projection, a tool used in some areas of theoretical mathematics.

Zhenghui Huo, assistant professor of mathematics

Titled, Mapping Properties of the Bergman Projection and its Related Operators, the aim of the project is to expand understanding of the Bergman projection and its connection to domain geometry, said Huo.

The research will involve mathematical computations and theorem proving, and the use of modern harmonic analysis techniques, used to examine periodically recurrent nature such as sound waves and tides, to investigate the Bergman projection.

Despite being theoretical, the project connects with topics from other areas of scientific research, such as quantum field theory, said Huo.

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