Betsy Hilliard

Elizabeth "Betsy" Hilliard

I am a fourth-year Ph.D. Candidate in Computer Science at Brown University. I am being advised by Dr. Amy Greenwald.

My CV: [pdf]

Contact Information

  • I'm on Twitter
  • Email: betsy[at]cs [dot]brown[dot]edu
  • Office: CIT 451
  • Box 1910, Computer Science Department
  • Brown University
  • 115 Waterman St.
  • Providence, RI 02912

Current Research Interests

My research focus sits at the intersection of economics and computer science as seen in areas such as multi-agent modeling, optimization, auction mechanisms and game theory. Currently, we are developing and analyzing agent bidding strategies for the TAC Ad Auctions and TAC AdX competitions.

I am particularly interested in how to communicate the intricacies of human value to autonomous agents working on their behalf and how allowing agents to transfer goods to each other can improve individual and global outcomes in Markov games.

I also think about how economics can inform the management of scarce resources as seen in the design of distributed/network systems. Economics is the study of the allocation of scarce resources. As computer systems, on a basic level, must manage scarce resources, I believe systems can be improved with an understanding of the forces involved with resource allocation and economics can be improved by reasoning about the complexities of resource sharing in distributed systems.


Elizabeth Hilliard, Amy Greenwald, and Victor Naroditskiy. An Algorithm for the Penalized Multiple Choice Knapsack Problem. To appear in the European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI 2014), August 2014.

Eric Sodomka, Elizabeth Hilliard, Amy Greenwald, and Michael Littman. Coco-Q: Learning in Stochastic Games with Side Payments. The 30th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2013), June 2013.

Thomas Goff, Amy Greenwald, Elizabeth Hilliard, Wolfgang Ketter and Eric Sodomka. JACK: A Java Auction Configuration Kit. AAMAS-12 Workshop on Agent-Mediated Electronic Commerce (AMEC) and Trading Agent Design and Analysis (TADA), June 2012.
Download: [pdf]

Posters and Presentations

Coco-Q: Learning in Stochastic Games with Side Payments. Cambridge Area Economics and Computer Science Day, April 2013; New England Machine Learning Day, May 2013; The 30th International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML 2013), June 2013. Poster: [pdf] Presentation: [link to video]

JACK: A Java Auction Configuration Kit. Workshop on Trading Agent Design and Analysis, at AAMAS 2012. Valencia, Spain.


Sheridan Teaching Center, Certificate I

Completed a year-long introductory teaching certificate from Brown's Sheridan Center for Teaching.

Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence cs141, Spring 2013

Developed course materials including weekly assignments; taught two lectures.

Guest Lecture on Java SWING, cs18

Taught introductory programming students about Java's GUI package, SWING, through an interactive design and development demonstration.

Professional Service

PhD Recruitment

I have served as a Recruitment Czar (in charge of organizing and running the PhD student recruitment weekend and process) for the 2012 and 2013 recruitment seasons.

Women in CS (WiCS) Mentoring

I mentor masters and undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree and/or doing research.


I graduated from Brandeis University in 2011 where I double majored in Computer Science and Economics. While there I was an undergraduate teaching assistant for the introductory programming course in C and JAVA. I also took a healthy serving of math and history courses.

I spent a semester abroad at the University of St Andrews, in St Andrews, Scotland, studying economics, especially auctions for innovation stimulation.

St Andrews

Internship Research

I spent three summers interning with Dr. David Vogt and Colleen Rizy at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the Regional Studies Program in the Environmental Sciences Division.

My projects included research on improper payments in the Government Student Loan system, rewriting and improving the basic Regional Recruiting Potential Model (RRPM) in Python as the preliminary effort towards creating an accessible online version of the tool for use by the Army National Guard and collecting and analyzing economic and social metrics of the 300 largest cities in the United States in order to determine what metrics might be useful in predicting which cities would successfully emerge from the Great Recession.

Other Things

Wikipedia: Knapsack Problem

I contribute to the Wikipedia site for the Knapsack Problem.

Computer Science: a.k.a. cool, huge, real-world problems

I think that problem solving is the gateway to computer science for many students. It was for me at least. I'm working on a collection of resources and a set of slides that I think are a great way of catching the interest of students who aren't interested in programming or computer games. A work in progress is here, and I welcome suggestions.


Two names, 1 person. I'm legally and professionally Elizabeth, but everyone calls me Betsy. I promise it's a legitimate nickname.

Other Interests

I also have other interests, if you are interested.