Rutgers University professor to receive George Pólya Prize

June 30, 2008

Van H. Vu honored for work in combinatorics

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) has recognized Van H. Vu for his work in combinatorial theory. He is being honored for developing fundamental concentration inequalities for random polynomials that are applicable to broader contexts than earlier inequalities. These inequalities have enabled the solution of long-standing problems in projective geometry, convex geometry, extremal graph theory, number theory, and theoretical computer science. This work is one of the most important contributions to probabilistic combinatorics in the past ten years. Vu will be presented with the George Pólya Prize during the SIAM Annual Meeting, July 7-11, in San Diego, California.

Born in Hanoi, Vietnam, Vu received his undergraduate degree from Eötvös University in Budapest, Hungary in 1994 and his PhD in Mathematics from Yale University in 1998 under the direction of László Lovász, who received the Pólya Prize in 1979. After postdoc years at Institute for Advance Study (IAS) and Microsoft Research, he spent the years 2001 through 2005 at the University of California, San Diego, as assistant, associate, and full professor. Since fall 2005, he has been a professor in the mathematics department at Rutgers University. Vu was a visiting professor at University Paris 6 in 2006. His research interests include combinatorics, probability, and additive number theory. He has received a Sloan Dissertation Fellowship (1997), a Sloan Research Fellowship (2002), and an NSF Career Award (2003). He has been a member of the IAS in 1998, 2005, and 2007, the last time as leader of a focus program, "Arithmetic Combinatorics."

The George Pólya Prize was established in 1969 and is given every two years, alternately in two categories: (1) for a notable application of combinatorial theory; (2) for a notable contribution in another area of interest to George Pólya such as approximation theory, complex analysis, number theory, orthogonal polynomials, probability theory, or mathematical discovery and learning. The Prize is broadly intended to recognize specific recent work. In 2008, the George Pólya Prize is given for a notable application of combinatorial theory. Members of the 2008 prize selection committee include Rolf Moehring (Chair), Berlin University of Technology, Germany; David S. Johnson, AT&T Labs - Research; Alex Pothen, Old Dominion University; Carla Savage, North Carolina State University; and Douglas B. West, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Vu will receive an engraved medal and a $20,000 cash award.

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