Career on the Fast TrackJune 12, 2006
A reporter in search of a single career-defining adjective for Leslie Greengard of New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences could hardly improve on "fast." Consider the spring of 2006: On April 26, NYU president John Sexton announced the appointment of Greengard as director of the Courant Institute, effective September 1. Earlier, Greengard had the distinction of being elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and, shortly afterward, to the National Academy of Sciences.
Maintaining the focus on fast, NAE pointed out that Greengard had been elected "for work on the development of algorithms and software for fast multipole methods." Many in the SIAM community will be well aware of these contributions, perhaps having heard Greengard's invited talk, "Fast Algorithms and Computational Engineering," at SIAM's first conference on CS&E (September 2000) or consulted any of his several papers that have appeared in SIAM journals, including "A Fast Adaptive Numerical Method for Stiff Two-Point Boundary Value Problems" (SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing, 1997) and a more recent survey article, "Accelerating the Nonuniform Fast Fourier Transform" (SIAM Review, 2004).
NYU provost David McLaughlin, himself a former director of the Courant Institute (1994–2002), and a long-time colleague of Greengard's, commented that the "breadth and quality of his research, and the intellectual energy he brings to his scholarship" would combine to make Greengard "an outstanding choice for this post."
A member of the Courant faculty since 1989, Greengard received both a PhD in computer science and an MD degree from Yale.
Also elected to NAE this year was Egon Balas, Thomas Lord University Professor of Operations Research at Carnegie Mellon University, "for contributions to integer programming and its applications to the scheduling and planning of industrial facilities."