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Padma Raghavan

Vice Provost for Research
Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering

Computer Science

Intellectual Neighborhoods

Research Focus

Raghavan's research predominantly concerns enhancing the parallel performance, energy efficiency and reliability of computations that involve high-dimensional sparse and unstructured data including matrices, and graphs. Sparse representations of data arise from many different contexts, for example, from largely local connections in a system represented as a sparse graph or network or from partial differential equations models where the number of nonzeroes in an associated matrix is bounded by a small constant times its dimension. Algorithms that exploit sparsity can deliver performance improvements by constant factors to orders of magnitude. Consequently, they enable the solution of larger or more complex problems for computation and data-enabled science and engineering "at scale" in a variety of disciplines.

A full list of publications, presentations and student supervision is here.

A current curriculum vitae (without publications) is here.


Padma Raghavan is Vanderbilt’s inaugural Vice Provost for Research and a Professor of Computer Science and Computer Engineering. As Vice Provost for Research, Raghavan is responsible for the development of Vanderbilt’s trans-institutional research, and she plays a major role in the university’s relationships with federal and private sector sponsors. Her office includes sponsored research administration, policy, integrity and compliance; information technologies for research; and intellectual property, technology transfer, and commercialization. Additionally, she oversees several research centers and institutes, including Vanderbilt’s Brain Institute, Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, Center for Research on Men’s Health, Data Science Institute, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Institute for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and Institute for Surgical Engineering.

Raghavan joined Vanderbilt in February 2016 from Penn State, where she was the founding Director of the university’s Institute for CyberScience, which was formed to advance interdisciplinary computation and data-enabled science and engineering and to provide cyberinfrastructure and services. She also served as the Associate Vice President for Research and Strategic Initiatives and as a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Penn State.

Raghavan specializes in computational data science and high-performance computing. She has led the development of “sparse algorithms” that derive from and operate on compact yet accurate representations of high-dimensional data, complex models, and computed results. She has developed parallel sparse solvers that limit the growth of computational costs and utilize the concurrent computing capability of advanced hardware to enable the solution of large-scale modeling and simulation problems that are otherwise beyond reach. She was also among the first to propose the design of energy-efficient supercomputing systems by combining results from sparse scientific computing with hardware features for embedded mobile processors. Raghavan is deeply involved in education and research, with nearly 50 Masters and Ph.D. theses supervised and over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Her research has been recognized by the NSF CAREER Award (1995), the Maria Goeppert-Mayer Distinguished Scholar Award (2002, University of Chicago and the Argonne National Laboratory), and selection as a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE, 2013).

Raghavan is also active in the profession having recently presented an invited talk at the 2018 IEEE/ACM Conference on Supercomputing and through her service as a member of the Advisory Boards of the Computing and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate and the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) of the National Science Foundation; the National Academies Panel on Information Sciences at the Army Research Laboratory; the Board of Governors of UT-Battelle, which operates the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the Council of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), which leads SIAM together with its Board and officers.