White House Honors Two Applied Mathematicians

November 15, 2011

Efforts to communicate the importance of the mathematical sciences in solving high-stakes problems of science, engineering, and society appear to have succeeded at the highest levels. In October, when President Barack Obama awarded the National Medal of Science to seven scientists, he was honoring a group that included two applied mathematicians: Richard Tapia of Rice University and Srinivasa S.R. Varadhan of the Courant Institute, New York University.

Alerted at press time to this very good news, SIAM News will revisit the varied and sustained contributions of these two respected members of the SIAM community in an upcoming issue.

Srinivasa Varadhan was cited for "his work in probability theory, especially his work on large deviations from expected random behavior, which has revolutionized this field of study during the second half of the twentieth century and become a cornerstone of both pure and applied probability. The mathematical insights he developed have been applied in diverse fields, including quantum field theory, population dynamics, finance, econometrics, and traffic engineering."

Photo by NYU Photo Bureau/Asselin

The committee cited Richard Tapia for "pioneering and fundamental contributions in optimization theory and numerical analysis and for his dedication and sustained efforts in fostering diversity and excellence in mathematics and science education."

Photo by Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

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