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Archive for August 2010

George Pólya Prize awarded to Emmanuel Candès and Terence Tao

Professors Terence Tao and Emmanuel Candès with SIAM President Doug Arnold (L to R) at the Awards Luncheon. Photo credit: Bob Abramson

Professor Emmanuel Candès from Stanford University and Professor Terence Tao from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) were the 2010 recipients of the George Pólya Prize, which was awarded at the Prizes and Awards Luncheon at the SIAM Annual Meeting held July 12-16 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The award recognizes their role in developing the theory of compressed sensing and matrix completion, which enables efficient reconstruction of sparse, high-dimensional data based on very few measurements. According to the selection committee, the algorithms and analysis are not only beautiful mathematics, worthy of study for their own sake, but they also lead to remarkable solutions of practical engineering problems.

Candès is Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Stanford University and the Ronald and Maxine Linde Professor of Applied and Computational Mathematics at California Institute of Technology (on leave). He completed his PhD in 1998 under the supervision of Professor David Donoho at Stanford University. A past recipient of SIAM’s James H. Wilkinson Prize in Numerical Analysis and Scientific Computing, he serves on the editorial board of the SIAM Journal on Imaging Science.

Tao has been a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) since 1999 and was appointed to UCLA’s James and Carol Collins Chair in the College of Letters and Science in 2007. He completed his PhD under Professor Elias M. Stein at Princeton University in 1996. In August 2006, he won the prestigious Fields Medal, often touted as the “Nobel Prize in mathematics.”

George Pólya was one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century. Given every two years in honor of Pólya, this SIAM prize recognizes alternately a notable application of combinatorial theory and a notable contribution to one of the other areas in Pólya’s extensive repertoire: approximation theory, complex analysis, number theory, orthogonal polynomials, probability theory, and mathematical discovery and learning. First established in 1969, it was extended in scope in 1992 following a generous contribution from the estate of Stella V. Pólya. Candès and Tao received an engraved medal each and shared a cash award of $20,000.

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ABOUT SIAM

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) is an international community of over 13,000 individual members, including applied and computational mathematicians, computer scientists, and other scientists and engineers. SIAM advances the fields of applied mathematics and computational science by publishing a series of premier journals and a variety of books, sponsoring a wide selection of conferences, and through various other programs. More information about SIAM is available at www.siam.org. Journalists are free to use this text so long as they acknowledge SIAM.

2010 Moody’s Mega Math Challenge Champions are now published authors

Students from Montgomery Blair High School celebrate with their coach after winning the 2010 Moody's Mega Math Challenge. Photo by Brad Hamilton Photography.

To come away with the top prize at a math modeling contest among 531 teams in 18 states is a feat in itself. But that was just the harbinger of things to come for Andrew Das Sarma, Jacob Hurwitz, David Tolnay, and Scott Yu from Montgomery Blair High School of Silver Spring, Maryland.

Since winning the $20,000 award and the accolades that came with it at Moody’s Mega Math Challenge 2010 earlier this year, the team has been interviewed by Pimm Fox of Bloomberg radio, has presented its findings at Lockheed Martin’s Data Capture Center, and met with U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert Groves.

And now they’ve had their research published in SIAM’s prestigious undergraduate publication, SIAM Undergraduate Research Online (SIURO). Their paper provides suggestions and recommendations to improve the adjustment of the Census undercount, identifies the most accurate method available to apportion the U.S. House of Representatives, and determines the fairest way to draw Congressional districts.

To minimize error in strategies employed by the Census Bureau to make up for undercounting–the term used to denote the number of people excluded due to delayed or absent responses–the authors deem as effective only two of the three procedures currently used. The authors reason that post-Census sampling, which is undertaken to estimate the excluded number of individuals, is counterproductive, generating more errors than the ones it seeks to remedy in the first place. The other two processes employed by the Bureau, which include estimating values for missing data and analyzing population breakdown through public records, on the other hand, can provide valuable information to account for omitted individuals, the team concludes.

For accurately dividing seats in the House of Representatives based on the count, the paper analyzes the currently used Hill method and five alternative methods that have been used historically: Dean, Webster, Adams, Jefferson, and Hamilton-Vinton. The authors come to the conclusion that the Hamilton-Vinton method is the most appropriate to ensure fair political representation of states. With regard to proper apportionment of federal funds to states based on Census numbers, the paper proposes the impartial division of states according to population density.

The paper, reflecting the Montgomery Blair team’s 14-hour research work conducted during the M3 Challenge, was published with minimal editing for style and grammar in Volume 3 of SIURO. It appeared electronically on August 4, 2010.

A PDF of the paper can be accessed at:

http://www.siam.org/students/siuro/vol3/M3.pdf

SIAM is picking its next Class of Fellows!

Help us identify one. Or two!

Recognizing exemplary applied mathematics is perhaps as important as studying it. Which is why SIAM created the Fellows program to acknowledge individuals who help advance the field with outstanding research and achievement.

Each year since the program was approved in 2008, SIAM designates as Fellows of the Society certain members who have made noteworthy contributions to the fields of applied mathematics and computational science. Fellowship is an honorific designation, which is conferred on deserving individuals in order to recognize exceptional talent. While such recognition is vital to encourage individual accomplishments, it also aids in promoting applied mathematics in the larger community.

There will be up to 34 Fellows selected for the 2011 Class. Nomination of SIAM Fellows is now an ongoing process, and we would like to encourage people to submit nominations. Criteria for selection of fellows are excellence in research, industrial work (that might or might not involve traditional research), and/or educational or other activities directly related to the goals of SIAM.

Help SIAM identify deserving members by making your nominations. It’s easier than ever! As requested by users and the SIAM Board and Council, we have simplified the process of nomination and you’ll see those changes on the fellows nomination page of our website.

If you have already made your submission, your proposition should not be affected by the new procedure.

Each SIAM member can nominate up to two individuals for fellowship in a given year. Please read the guidelines here: http://www.siam.org/prizes/fellows/nomination.php

Use the Nomination website to submit required information: http://nominatefellows.siam.org/Pages/Home.aspx

All inductees to the 2011 Class of SIAM Fellows will be acknowledged at the SIAM/CAIMS joint awards luncheon held next July at ICIAM 2011 in Vancouver, Canada.

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ABOUT SIAM

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) is an international community of over 13,000 individual members, including applied and computational mathematicians, computer scientists, and other scientists and engineers. SIAM advances the fields of applied mathematics and computational science by publishing a series of premier journals and a variety of books, sponsoring a wide selection of conferences, and through various other programs. More information about SIAM is available at www.siam.org.