Slashing Computers’ Power Draw


Computers use more power than they actually need, draining precious resources and straining budgets of industry and government.
Rodrigo Arnaldo Carrasco, PhD '13 Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, is working on a solution using algorithms to significantly slash power use.
“The possibility of reducing power consumption by correctly managing how your computer uses that power has tremendous implications,” he says, “especially considering the huge data centers that some companies currently have and that consume the equivalent of several thousand households.”
It’s a matter of optimizing an existing process to get the most out of it.
“It turns out that the relation between speed and power is not linear, hence a little bit less of speed implies a lot less of energy,” Carrasco says. “If you can come up with an algorithm that can better  schedule all the different jobs computers do, assuring that things are still done when they are needed, you can save much in terms of energy consumption.”
Carrasco, 31, is a native of Santiago, Chile, and earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Electrical Engineering at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile. He took four years off from academia to work in South America with the strategy and technology consulting firm of Booz Allen Hamilton, based in McLean, Va. While there, he had opportunity to use some of his engineering skills, whetting his appetite to acquire more.
Why Columbia?
“It has one of the strongest programs in operations research and financial engineering in the U.S., with some of the most important researchers in each of the different fields within OR and FE,” Carrasco says. “Also, the IEOR department has a relatively small number of students per professors compared to other first tier programs, which allows you to have a closer relationship with the professors and thus obtain more from classes and research.
In addition, Carrasco says, “this Ph.D. program allows a lot of flexibility, which in turns means that you can take a wide range of classes that can complement, and expand, your knowledge and your focus.”
This simple formula seems tailor made for him.
“Operations Research gives you an enormous amount of tools to tackle real life problems,” he says. “The possibility of helping and positively affect the lives of so many people is one of the things that made this field so attractive to me.”

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