Five Special Speakers To Help Mark SIAM's 50th Anniversary

April 3, 2002

Incontestably adept at addressing her colleagues in the mathematical sciences, Ingrid Daubechies of Princeton University is also proficient at persuading much more general audiences that the results of mathematical research are all around them.
In creating a program for SIAM's 50th-anniversary meeting, organizing committee chairs Martin Golubitsky and Margaret Wright settled on a format that features five plenary talks in carefully selected areas. Readers who have heard Ingrid Daubechies' eloquent talks on wavelets and their applications will not be surprised to learn that she will be one of the plenary speakers.

Approximation and the mathematics of large data sets, the broad topic that Daubechies will consider, shares with the other plenary areas what Wright describes as "major progress" in the last fifty years, "substantial current activity," and a "truly promising" future. Wavelets have turned out to be excellent tools for use within a nonlinear approximation framework, Daubechies says, pointing to provably optimal or near-optimal results in a variety of problem settings, including the compression and/or sparse representation of images and large data sets.

Readers who trace their introduction to wavelets to Daubechies' 1990 invited talk at the SIAM meeting in Chicago, or to her 1992 Ten Lectures in Wavelets (SIAM's all-time best-selling book), will know that they can expect a beautifully clear, up-to-date explanation of this active research area. Daubechies will also consider applications, and limitations, of wavelets.

On February 27, in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, Daubechies faced an audience of a completely different type: an assortment of congressional staffers, a few members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and a good turnout from the Washington mathematics community. Her mission, in a talk titled "Mathematics, Patterns and Homeland Security," was to connect advances in science and technology with the underlying work done by mathematical scientists. The American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute sponsored the event, one of a series of lunchtime congressional briefings by mathematical scientists; previous speakers include Carl Pomerance, Ronald Coifman, and Mary Wheeler.

Touching on fluid dynamics (with end results ranging from weather prediction to the design of better golf balls), number theory and algebra (with references to cryptography and error-correcting codes), Daubechies focused on ideal data representation, mentioning some of her work on wavelets, describing their effectiveness in signal analysis, and leaving her heterogeneous audience in no doubt that "Good data representation is essential!"

The other plenary speakers on the Philadelphia program are Martin Grötschel (discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science), Philip Holmes (dynamical systems), Cleve Moler (mathematical software), and George Papanicolaou (partial differential equations). Details about the SIAM 50th Anniversary and 2002 Annual Meeting (Philadelphia, July 8-12) can be found at

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