The Azimuth Project
Blake Pollard

I’m currently a postdoc at Carnegie Mellon University, working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology. We are working on categorical approaches to the modeling and control of multi-scale systems. The incorporation of renewable energy sources (e.g. wind, PV) and associated technologies (e.g. batteries, distributed storage) present both challenges and opportunities to the problem of managing of the nation’s electrical grid. Modern smart grid technologies require cooperation across spatial and temporal scales to achieve efficient and reliable operation. We aim to develop a framework enabling the design and testing of various grid architectures and control strategies using category theory to guide the integration of existing tools and data.

I did my Physics PhD at UC Riverside working under Prof. John Baez.

I work on a variety of topics. My thesis combined ideas from non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, information theory, and category theory to study certain classes of non-linear open dynamical systems used to model various behaviors of interacting entities in a number of disciplines including chemistry, ecology, and epidemiology.

I spent a year working with Metron Scientific Solutions on categorical approaches to systems engineering as part of DARPA’s Complex Adaptive Systems Composition and Design Environment (CASCADE) program.

More recently, I was a visiting researcher in the Automation and Control group in Siemens’ Corporate Technology division in Princeton. We developed a graph-based approach to integrating heterogeneous data into flexible database structures which allow for efficient inference. This involved a combination of category theory, data science, and machine learning along with a bit of common sense.

I did my undergrad in Applied Physics at Columbia University in New York where I worked at the Earth Institute on developing a two-stage classification/regression approach to tracking changes in the spatial extent of irrigated agriculture by combining multi-spectral satellite data with other data sets such as topography and rainfall data.

After Columbia I moved to Hawai’i for a year (mostly for surfing) where I worked in a particle physics group at the University of Hawai’i. Using FEA software, I optimized the design of a field cage to be used in for directional neutron detection. I also machined a prototype of the design. The group went on to construct a number of such detectors including several which were installed on Beast II, the commissioning detector for the SuperKEKB/Belle II particle accelerator in Japan.

Here are a few of my papers:

John C. Baez and Blake S. Pollard, A compositional framework for reaction networks, Reviews of Mathematical Physics, (to appear).

Blake S. Pollard, Open Markov processes: A compositional perspective on non-equilibrium steady states in biology, Entropy, 115461, 2016.

John C. Baez and Blake S. Pollard, Relative entropy in biological systems, Entropy, 18(2), 46, 2016.

John C. Baez, Brendan Fong, and Blake S. Pollard, A compositional framework for Markov processes, Journal of Mathematical Physics, 57, 033301, 2016.

Blake S. Pollard, A Second Law for open Markov processes, Open Systems and Information Dynamics, 23, 01, 2016.

John C. Baez and Blake S. Pollard, Quantropy, Entropy, 17(2), 2015.