Dr. Chintan Vaishnav

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Office: Room: 100 Main St., E62-413, Cambridge MA 02142; Email: chintanv at mit dot edu



Dr. Chintan Vaishnav is a Senior Lecturer at MIT's Sloan School of Management and the Academic Director of MIT Tata Center for Technology and Design. He is a socio-technologist, an engineer trained to understand human as well as technological complexity in large systems. He is interested in creating socio-technical systems for improving lives in underserved communities, and in analyzing the implications of promoting and managing such technologies for policymakers, managers, and society at large.

Dr. Vaishnav's research, teaching, and action spans Technology, Development, and Policy. In the area of Technology and Development, he has designed and teaches a graduate-level course on Technology, Design, and Entrepreneurship for Emerging Community at MIT. The objectives of this course are to enable students to understand the challenges of designing solutions for development; frame research to address such challenges by applying design and systems thinking; and produce solutions that are rigorous, relevant, and implementable.

His research on technology and development focuses on designing information based solutions for agriculture and water sectors. For agriculture, his current projects focus on (a) technology for on-farm soil testing and fertilizer recommendation system for small holder farmers, (b) modeling the dynamics of transitioning from conventional to organic farming to understand how small holder farmers may avoid the worse before better scenario. In the area of water, his current projects focus on (a) detecting bacterial contamination in village water sources and the associated tools for the necessary behavior change, and (b) dry preservation of water contaminants and building integrated decision tools for managing waterborne outbreaks for better governance. For this work, Dr. Vaishnav spends two to three months every year working with rural, disadvantaged communities.

In the area of Technology and Policy, Dr. Vaishnav's work has focused on understanding the implications of Internet-based technologies for various levels of policy-making that ultimately impacts various forms of freedoms. His doctoral work focused on understanding conditions under which technology disruptions do and do not occur, and how governments could achieve regulatory compliance without killing innovation when Internet-based services disrupt traditional ones (Thesis summary). He has also investigated the impact of Cyberspace on political engagement (see a paper), issues of International Relations such as trade and security (see a paper), and competition in telecom equipment market .

Dr. Vaishnav has advised the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) at the White House, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), and has over the past decade worked with several large communications companies who are members of the MIT's Communications Futures Program. For his development work, Dr. Vaishnav works closely with many leading NGOs, international organizations, and parts of governments. His work is published in the areas of computer networks, technology policy, strategy, and development. He holds a BS and MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering, an MS in Technology and Policy, and a PhD in Engineering Systems from MIT. He has several years of engineering research experience at the Bell Labs. He also holds a BA in Indian Classical Music from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, India.. Dr. Vaishnav is an Indian national.

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    Selected Publications

Over years, my work has spanned the areas of technology, management and policy. Listed below are some publications representing each area:

Technology and Policy

  • Chintan Vaishnav and Johannes Bauer, “Effects of Policy on Competition in Telecom Equipment Markets: Insights from a Multi-level Multi-method Study ,” Telecom Policy Research Conference, Arlington, VA, 2016.
  • Chintan Vaishnav, Nazli Choucri, and David Clark, “Cyber International Relations as an Integrated System,” The International Engineering Systems Environment Systems and Decisions 33, no. 4 (December 1, 2013): 561 - 576[from Springer]
  • Chintan Vaishnav, “Regulator’s Dilemma: How to Balance Compliance and Innovation as the Internet Disrupts Traditional Technologies”, International Telecommunications Society Regional Conference, New Delhi, India, 2012.
  • Chintan Vaishnav and Pedro Ferreira, “Internet and Political Engagement: A New Integrated Model of Cyber-Democracy”, Telecom Policy Research Conference, Arlington, VA, 2011. [PDF]
  • Chintan Vaishnav, “From Herding Sheep to Herding Cats: Balancing Regulation and Innovation in the Modular Age of the Internet”, Technology Policy Research Conference, Arlington, VA, 2010.
  • Chintan Vaishnav (2007). 'The End of Core: Should Disruptive Innovation in Telecom Invoke Discontinuous Regulatory Response?' PhD Proposal, Engineering Systems Division (ESD), MIT. [Email]
  • Chintan Vaishnav . and C. H. Fine (2006). ‘A dynamic assessment of VoIP innovation, adoption and their interaction with CALEA regulation,’ Technology Policy Research Conference (TPRC), Arlington, VA. [PDF]
  • Chintan Vaishnav . (2005). ‘Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP): The Dynamics of Technology and Regulation’ Technology and Policy Program. Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: 166. [PDF]

Technology and Socioeconomic Development

  • Sarah Nolet and Chintan Vaishnav (2016). ‘Can We Avoid Worse Before Better in Transitioning to Organic Farming? ’. International Conference of System Dynamics, Delft, Netherlands.
  • Chintan Vaishnav. (2004). ‘Information Flows in the Traditional Knowledge and the Grassroots Innovations Value Chains for Agriculture - A Report from Gujarat,’ Part of a report on understanding the impact of information technology on the agricultural sector to the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Microsoft Research . The work was carried out with the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA), India.

Technology Strategy

  • (Selected for Plenary Presentation) Chintan Vaishnav, A. Khakifirooz, et al. (2008). ‘Does Technology Disruption Always Mean Industry Disruption?’. International Conference of System Dynamics, Athens, Greece. [PDF]
  • Chintan Vaishnav, A. Khakifirooz, et al. (2006). ‘Punishing by Reward: When your Performance Bell-curve Stops Working for You’. International Conference of System Dynamics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands. [PDF]

Technology (Computer Networks)

  • Chintan Vaishnav, Matt Nieberger, A. P. Jayasumana, and Jon Sauer, ‘Design and Performance of a Robust WDM Network,’ presented at SPIE's International Symposium on Optical Science, Engineering, and Instrumentation 1996, Aug. 4-9, 1996.
  • S. A. Abd-Elmalak, C. Vaishnav and A. P. Jayasumana, `Performance of Robust WDM Fast Circuit-Switched Networks with Token Passing in Control Channel,' International Journal of Communication Systems, Vol. 15, pp.239-255, 2002. [PDF]  
  • S. A. Abd-Elmalak, C. Vaishnav and A. P. Jayasumana, ‘Performance of a Symmetric Robust WDM Network when the Channel Access Pattern at Nodes is Known,’ Proc. 22nd IEEE Conference on Local Computer Networks, Oct. 1997. [PDF]
  • T. S. El-Bawab, C. Vaishnav, A. P. Jayasumana, H. Temkin, J. Sauer and H. Willebrand, ‘Medium Access Control Protocols for Robust Wavelength Division Multiplexed Local-Area Networks,’ Fiber and Integrated Optics, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp.237-260, 1997.
  • Tarek El-bawab, Chintan Vaishnav, Anura P. Jayasumana, Henryk Temkin, Jon R. Sauer, and Heinz A. Willebrand, ‘Medium Access Control Protocols for Robust Wavelength Division Multiplexed (WDM) Local Area Networks,’ Proc. International Communications Conference (ICC)'96, v. 2, pp 1099-1106, June 23-27, 1996.
  • Samir A. Abd-Elmalak, Chintan Vaishnav, and Anura P. Jayasumana, ‘Performance of a Symmetric Robust WDM Circuit-Switched Network with Token-Passing in Control Channel,’ to be presented at 5th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks (IC3N'96), Oct 16-19, 1996. [PDF]
  • Samir A. Abd-Elmalak, Chintan Vaishnav, and Anura P. Jayasumana, ‘Performance of a Robust WDM Network with Token-Passing and a Limited Number of Lasers per Station,’ to be presented at IEEE 21st Conference On Local Computer Networks, Oct 13-16, 1996.
  • Samir A. Abd-Elmalak, Chintan Vaishnav, and Anura P. Jayasumana, ‘Performance of Packet Switched WDM Network with Dynamic Wavelength Selection,' Proc. IEEE 20th Conference On Local Computer Networks, pp 73-81, 1995. [PDF]
  • Samir A. Abd-Elmalak, Chintan Vaishnav, and Anura P. Jayasumana, ‘Performance of a WDM Network with Dynamic Wavelength Selection for Packet Switching,’ Submitted to IEEE/ACM transactions on networking.