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URA Profile: Elyot Grant

Elyot Grant

Elyot Grant Picture

Please describe your overall experience in the program. 

It was one of my most memorable and enjoyable terms during undergrad! I worked with Dr. Jochen Könemann, who taught me about a family of very interesting combinatorial optimization problems called priority covering integer programs. I developed a number of algorithms to produce optimal or approximately-optimal solutions to certain subtypes of these problems, and also established some hardness results and built some connections between these problems to other optimization problems. It was a very productive academic term filled with a lot of interesting research.

How has your participation in the URA program impacted your later experiences? 

The URA led to a publication that was accepted at the IPCO conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, and I received funding to attend the conference, which was a really great experience. The URA work also provided the foundation for part of the results in my Master's thesis, which was co-supervised by Dr. Könemann. That subsequent work led to a number of publications in high-ranking conferences like SODA, and those publications ultimately helped get me into the theoretical computer science PhD program at MIT.

What have you been up to since your URA position, and what are you working on now?

After a few years at MIT, I put my PhD on hold to start an online video game company (Lunarch Studios). Several of my co-founders and one employee were actually former students or URAs from the Combinatorics and Optimization program at UW and they are among the most intelligent, talented, and hard-working people I have ever met.