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Math, image processing and movie special effects

At the SIAM Annual Meeting held in Minneapolis in July, Tony Chan of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology spoke about recent growth in the field of image processing due to the advent of inexpensive and integrated image capturing devices, which has led to massive data and novel applications. In a very interesting talk, he described how image processing has emerged not only as an application domain where computational mathematics provides ideas and solutions, but also in spurring new research directions. 2012 I.E. Block Lecturer Robert Bridson, in a very engaging lecture, demonstrated how a computer-generated effect, like a stormy ocean, is made to look real in movies by numerically solving physical equations describing the motion, bringing mathematics and scientific computing into the forefront of animation.

Watch a video recapping both talks and interviews with the speakers!

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Watch an overview of the 2012 SIAM Annual Meeting

At the 2012 SIAM Annual Meeting held in July, over a thousand mathematicians and computational scientists gathered from all over the world in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to discuss the state of the art in a variety of disciplines in the mathematical sciences through invited presentation, prize lectures, minisymposia, and contributed papers and posters. Watch a brief recap:

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SIAM Past President Doug Arnold on mathematical literature and scholarly publishing

At the SIAM Annual Meeting held in Minneapolis in July, SIAM Past President Douglas Arnold of the University of Minnesota addressed a very timely and relevant issue: problems facing scholarly publishing today, such as author misconduct and plagiarism, intentional manipulation of citation statistics, and the high price of journal subscriptions.

“Math literature is enduring,” he said, noting that citations in mathematical journals often go back decades, and emphasizing the need for mathematicians to take a stance on this important issue. “Refereeing is super-important in math because we believe in the truth.” He explained a few cases of plagiarism that should be very worrisome to the community, reinforcing the importance of tools like CrossCheck employed by SIAM Journals. He then turned his focus on impact factors and their skewed nature due to self-citations and self-references. Illustrating how impact factors can be greatly influenced by self-citations with a series of convincing graphs, he cautioned the audience to be more guarded about the authenticity of bibliometrics.

The final part of Dr. Arnold’s talk focused on his personal views on the influence of large commercial publishers and one in particular–Elsevier–which, in his opinion is affecting the publishing world with its non-competitive prices, journal bundling, and huge profit margins, all the while relying on unpaid volunteer labor. Lastly, he mentioned the need to redefine copyright laws in general, transferring more rights to authors and less to publishers. In a very engaging lecture, Dr. Arnold inspired a lot of food for thought about the future of mathematical publishing.

Watch a video recapping Dr. Arnold’s talk:

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SIAM John von Neumann Lecture awarded to John Ball

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) awarded the 2012 John von Neumann Lecture to Sir John Ball of the University of Oxford in recognition of his deep contributions to our understanding of the mechanics of materials via the calculus of variations and other branches of mathematical analysis.

The citation especially notes his pioneering work on existence theorems and constitutive models for nonlinear elasticity, cavitation in solids, irregular minimizers and material microstructure, and, more recently, defects in liquid crystals.

The John von Neumann Lecture is awarded each year by SIAM to a mathematician or scientist for outstanding contributions to the field of applied mathematical sciences and their effective communication to the community. Established in 1959, SIAM’s flagship lecture is given in honor of the Hungarian-American mathematician after whom it is named, and whose pioneering research encompassed the fields of mathematics, physics, economics, computer science, and statistics.

Professor Ball accepted the prestigious award from SIAM President Nick Trefethen at the Prizes and Awards Luncheon, following which, he delivered The John von Neumann Lecture, Liquid Crystals for Mathematicians, on Tuesday, July 10, at the SIAM Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

An important and versatile interface for electronic visual displays in a wide range of equipment from calculators to television screens, liquid crystals are the working substance behind a multi-billion dollar industry. Representing a class of soft matter systems that exhibit properties intermediate to solid crystals and isotropic fluids, they present an intriguing subject for mathematical analysis. In a very engaging lecture, Dr. Ball described various branches of mathematics, including partial differential equations, the calculus of variations, multiscale analysis, scientific computation, dynamical systems, algebra and topology, that can explain the math behind liquid crystals. Watch a brief video recapping his prize lecture:

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Barbara Keyfitz receives awards for research and service in applied mathematics

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) awards the SIAM Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession to an applied mathematician who has made noteworthy contributions to the furtherance of applied mathematics on the national level. The 2012 award goes to Barbara Lee Keyfitz of The Ohio State University.

Professor Keyfitz is a fitting recipient of the prize, as evidenced by her long-term and pervasive advocacy of applied mathematics in a career spanning several leadership roles. As the Director of the Fields Institute in Toronto (2004-2008), Keyfitz revitalized applied mathematics programming with initiatives such as the successful Fields-MITACS Industrial Problem-Solving workshops. An innovative graduate industrial research internship program was created for students all over Canada during her term on the Board of Directors of MITACS-NCE (Network of Centres of Excellence), a program that has since expanded to cover all disciplines.  Closer links between SIAM’s US and Mexican communities are owed in part to Keyfitz’s efforts in organizing numerous SIAM-SMM (Mexican Mathematical Society) conferences.  She has served as President of the Association for Women in Mathematics (2005-2006), as SIAM Vice President for Programs (1998-2003), and is currently the President of ICIAM.

If her contributions to the field need any reinforcing, Professor Keyfitz also received this year’s AWM-SIAM Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture for her pioneering and seminal contributions to the field of hyperbolic conservation laws.  In collaboration with Herbert Kranzer, she introduced the novel and important notion of singular shocks and made the original study of their properties.  Her research group also spearheaded the revival of the rigorous treatment of transonic gas flow, now a very active research area.  Important applications of her work include aerodynamics and multiphase flow models in porous media. The AWM-SIAM Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture is awarded annually at the SIAM Annual Meeting to highlight significant contributions of women to applied or computational mathematics.

The Dr. Charles Saltzer Professor of Mathematics at the Ohio State University, Dr. Keyfitz was recognized for her contributions at the SIAM Annual Meeting held in Minneapolis, Minnesota from July 9-13. Dr. Keyfitz delivered the AWM-SIAM Sonia Kovalevsky Lecture, The Role of Characteristics in Conservation Laws, on Monday afternoon and accepted her awards the following day at the Prizes and Awards Luncheon. Watch a brief video recapping her prize lecture:

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Vojtech Rodl and Mathias Schacht honored by SIAM with George Polya Prize

The George Pólya Prize is given every two years by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) in honor of the Hungarian-Jewish mathematician known for his fundamental contributions to combinatorics, number theory, numerical analysis and probability theory.

The 2012 George Pólya Prize has been awarded to Vojtěch Rödl of Emory University, USA, and Mathias Schacht of the University of Hamburg, Germany, for their notable contributions to the application of combinatorial theory.

Their seminal work on the regularity method for hypergraphs has produced a central body of results developing, extending, and consolidating Szemerédi’s regularity method for hypergraphs.  They have also shown how this method leads to remarkable results like the generalized hypergraph removal lemma and the theorem that every decidable, hereditary property of k-uniform hypergraphs is testable with one-sided error.

Drs. Rödl and Schacht each received an engraved medal, and they share a cash award of $20,000.  The Polya Prize was awarded at the Prizes and Awards Luncheon at the SIAM Annual Meeting held July 9-13 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Rödl has been affiliated with Emory University for two decades, where he is currently the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. He earned his MS and PhD, both in Mathematics, from Charles University in Prague. His work focuses on discrete mathematics and combinatorics.

Schacht is the Heisenberg Professor in the Discrete Mathematics Research Group of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Hamburg.  He earned his PhD in 2004 from Emory University under the mentorship of Rödl, his award co-recipient. His research interests are in graph theory, Ramsey theory and extremal combinatorics, random structures and probabilistic methods, and theoretical computer science.

First established in 1969, the Polya Prize has been awarded every two years since 1992, following a benevolent contribution from the estate of Stella V. Polya.  The prize is given alternately in two categories: for a notable application of combinatorial theory and for a notable contribution in another area of interest to George Polya.

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SIAM awards Outstanding Paper Prizes for exemplary research

Of all the outstanding research published by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), the most noteworthy papers from its collection of peer-reviewed journals are selected for the SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize each year.

Papers are selected from up to three years prior to the award year for their originality of research, with special emphasis on work that opens up new areas of applied mathematics or offers fresh perspectives on existing ones. The following papers received awards in 2012.

Nir Ailon (Technion, Israel) and Bernard Chazelle (Princeton University) were recognized for their paper, “The Fast Johnson-Lindenstrauss Transform and Approximate Nearest Neighbors” published in the SIAM Journal on Computing in 2009.

“Topological Optimization of Rod-Stirring Devices” published in SIAM Review (2011), by authors Matthew D. Finn (University of Adelaide, Australia) and Jean-Luc Thiffeault (University of Wisconsin) also received an Outstanding Paper Prize. Thiffeault was present to receive the award from SIAM President Nick Trefethen at the Prizes and Awards Luncheon held Tuesday, July 10, as part of the SIAM Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Bart Vandereycken (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland) and Stefan Vandewalle (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium) won an award for the paper, “A Riemannian Optimization Approach for Computing Low-Rank Solutions of Lyapunov Equations,” which was published in the SIAM Journal on Matrix Analysis and Applications in 2010. Vandereycken accepted the award from Dr. Trefethen.

SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize recipients receive a cash award of $500 accompanied by one travel award per team to attend the SIAM Annual Meeting. The prize has been awarded since 1999.

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SIAM W. T. and Idalia Reid Prize awarded to Ruth Curtain

Ruth F. Curtain of the University of Groningen in The Netherlands is the 2012 recipient of the W. T. and Idalia Reid Prize.

First awarded by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) in 1994, the prize recognizes outstanding work in, or other contributions to, the broadly defined areas of differential equations and control theory.  The prize, endowed by the late Mrs. Idalia Reid to honor her husband, has been awarded annually since 2000, and may be given either for a single notable achievement or a collection of such achievements.

Professor Curtain is being recognized for her fundamental contributions to the theory of infinite dimensional systems and the control of systems governed by partial and delay differential equations. Dr. Curtain accepted her award of $10,000 and an engraved medal from SIAM President Nick Trefethen at the Prizes and Awards Luncheon and presented the associated prize lecture, entitled, Algebraic Properties of Riccati Equations, at the SIAM Annual Meeting held July 9-13 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

A professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Groningen, Curtain’s research interests are in infinite dimensional systems theory, control theory, and reciprocal systems.

After completing her early academic education at the University of Melbourne, Australia, earning her BSc, Diploma of Education, and MA in mathematics, Dr. Curtain went on to receive a PhD in applied mathematics at Brown University. She joined the mathematics section of the University of Groningen over three decades ago. She was elected a Fellow in IEEE for contributions to the control theory of stochastic systems and infinite-dimensional systems. She has served on the committee responsible for mathematics, computing science, and astronomy of the Dutch Science Research Council.

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Roundup of Day 4 at AN12

Helmut Pottmann of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, led the lineup of exciting talks Thursday with his discussion of Freeform Architecture and Discrete Differential Geometry. With the emergence of freeform structures, come interesting mathematical problems related to actual fabrication in contemporary architecture. Dr. Pottmann spoke about recent advances in geometric computing for such freeform architecture, with special emphasis on discrete differential geometry. Taking the audience through interesting structures such as meshes with planar quadrilateral faces and single curved panels, he discussed the many architectural applications of geometry. Read the rest of this entry »

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AN12 Overview of Day 3

Owly Images

Valeria Simoncini talks about Model-Assisted Effective Large Scale Matrix Computations (Photo credit: Nick Higham)

Valeria Simoncini of Universita’ di Bologna, Italy, gave an account of recent advances in the solution of large scale matrices. Many advanced mathematical models require the solution of large algebraic linear systems, making these models computationally effective. Dr. Simoncini described several state-of-the-art iterative linear system solvers in an invited talk titled Model-Assisted Effective Large Scale Matrix Computations. Examples included matrices and vectors which inherit spectral properties of underlying continuous operators. Read the rest of this entry »

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