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Faculty Spotlight: Jose Blanchet

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Portrait of Professor Jose Blanchet

Thirteen years ago, Professor Jose Blanchet left Stanford with an MS&E PhD, but also with a dream: to one day get back to the Farm.

This quarter, he makes that dream a reality by joining MS&E’s faculty. “My teachers and friends have now become my colleagues,” said Blanchet.

To say he thinks fondly of his four years at MS&E as a master’s and PhD student is something of an understatement. “My wife and I loved the surroundings of the university. We also loved the vibrant intellectual environment. It’s amazing how much innovation, excitement and energy there is at Stanford,” said Blanchet.


Since 2004, Blanchet has taught at Harvard and then at Columbia. He studies predictive risk analytics. “I work on problems to try to identify risk factors, build mathematical models, and come up with quantitative ways of assessing peril. I try to provide a solution of hedging for situations when those risks occur,” said Blanchet.

He described his background as half operations research and half statistics. He and his growing family were happy at Harvard and Columbia and met great people. “These places are really fantastic in their own right…but when friends would ask me where I wanted to be, I always thought of my four years at Stanford and hoped to return.”

Returning to Stanford

According to Blanchet, Stanford’s profile and legacy in management science were also central to his desire to come back. “It’s quite humbling to be part of the group that once included George Dantzig and so many others. If you look at the editorial board of the major journals, you can see the Stanford influence everywhere. It means a lot to me to be a part of it.”

The decision to come to Stanford, he said, has already changed the direction of his current work. “I’ve become more adventurous in terms of my research…I started to re-adjust and research things that I thought would be exciting and appropriate for the Stanford environment and the valley. This is for me, in many ways, like being born again in terms of the types of research that I’m pursuing.”

"Machine learning" principles

Blanchet applies “machine learning” principles to his research topics. He said, “I have a bit of an idiosyncratic view of machine learning.” Although computer scientists coined the term to describe the evolution of artificial intelligence in computing, he applies it to describe how he designs algorithms with cognitive properties. “The algorithms can predict, classify and do tasks that humans can do,” said Blanchet.

Current research

Blanchet’s latest research interests include quantifying the risks of mining, predictive marketing, revenue management innovation, and communication networks and power systems. He also believes that the insurance market will change significantly, allowing for interesting research avenues.

In his free time...

Although currently at Stanford three days a week and commuting back to New York, his wife, Lalli, and his two kids will move to Palo Alto in the summer. In his limited spare time, Blanchet said he likes to cook “easy Mexican food” and spend time with his family.

Written by Rachel Street.

Faculty stories & voices