About

Sendhil Mullainathan is the Roman Family University Professor of Computation and Behavioral Science at Chicago Booth. His current research uses machine learning to understand complex problems in human behavior, social policy, and especially medicine, where computational techniques have the potential to uncover biomedical insights from large-scale health data. In addition to being a co-PI at the joint Berkeley-UChicago Laboratory for Systems Medicine, Sendhil is the cofounder of the computational medicine initiative, Nightingale.

In past work he has combined insights from economics and behavioral science with causal inference tools—lab, field, and natural experiments—to study social problems such as discrimination and poverty. Papers include: the impact of poverty on mental bandwidth; how algorithms can improve on judicial decision-making; whether CEO pay is excessive; using fictitious resumes to measure discrimination; showing that higher cigarette taxes makes smokers happier; and modeling how competition affects media bias.

Sendhil enjoys writing.  He recently co-authored Scarcity: Why Having too Little Means so Much and writes regularly for the New York Times.  Additionally, his research has appeared in a variety of publications including the Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, Social Cognition, British Medical Journal, and Management Science.

Sendhil helped co-found a non-profit to apply behavioral science (ideas42), co-founded a center to promote the use of randomized control trials in development (the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab), serves on the board of the MacArthur Foundation, has worked in government in various roles, is affiliated with the NBER and BREAD, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Prior to joining Booth, Sendhil was the Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, where he taught courses about machine learning and big data.  He began his academic career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Sendhil is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius Grant,” has been designated a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, was labeled a “Top 100 Thinker” by Foreign Policy Magazine, and was named to the “Smart List: 50 people who will change the world” by Wired Magazine (UK). His hobbies include basketball, board games, googling, and fixing up classic espresso machines.

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