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Simons Lectures Series 2024

Simons Lecture Poster 2024

Lenka Zdeborova

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

April 23-25, 2024

4:30pm, Room 2-190

Reception: 4pm, 2-290

Computation through the lens of spin glasses

  • April 23: Phase transitions in computational problems
  • April 24: Inference, learning and optimization in complex landscapes I
  • April 25: Inference, learning and optimization in complex landscapes II

Latest News

Lenka Zdeborova to Give Simons Lecture April 23-25

Lenka Zdeborová

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s Lenka Zdeborová will give three lectures April 23, 24, and 25, as part of the Department of Mathematics’s annual Simons Lecture Series.

She is a professor of physics and of computer science and communication systems as well as head of the Statistical Physics of Computation Laboratory.

Computation through the lens of spin glasses

  • Lecture 1:
    Phase transitions in computational problems
  • Lecture 2:
    Inference, learning and optimization in complex landscapes I
  • Lecture 3:
    Inference, learning and optimization in complex landscapes II

Each lecture will begin with a 4 p.m. reception in 2-290, followed by an hour lecture from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in 2-190.

This annual lecture series features presentations by top mathematicians. Many thanks to Jim and Marilyn Simons for their financial support of these lectures.

John Urschel Receives Early Career Prize from SIAM Activity Group on Linear Algebra

John Urschel

John Urschel PhD ’21 will receive the 2024 SIAM Activity Group on Linear Algebra Early Career Prize. He will be awarded this May at the SIAM Conference on Applied Linear Algebra in Paris.

Established in 2017, this prize is awarded every three years to one post-PhD early-career researcher in the field of applicable linear algebra, for outstanding contributions within six years of receiving their PhD.

John was recognized for his work in linear algebra, using many different techniques from mathematics, such as random matrix theory, orthogonal polynomials, group theory, and optimization

Congratulations, John!

PRIMES and RSI Students Awarded at Regeneron

Alan Bu Michelle Wei
From left: Alan Bu and Michelle Wei

Ten PRIMES and RSI high school seniors won awards at the 2024 Regeneron Science Talent Search Competition!

PRIMES student Michelle Wei won 3rd Place ($150,000 scholarship) for her project “Solving Second-Order Cone Programs Deterministically in Matrix Multiplication Time,” mentored by EECS’ Guanghao Ye.

PRIMES and RSI student Alan Bu earned 10th Place ($40,000) for his RSI project, “On the Maximum Number of Spanning Trees in a Planar Graph with a Fixed Number of Edges: A Linear-Algebraic Connection,” mentored by Yuchong Pan. Each of them took prizes for math projects that finished within the top ten spots. Another PRIMES student became a finalist ($25,000), and seven other PRIMES and RSI students won national scholar awards.

Congratulations to the winners, and a big thank you to their mentors, PRIMES Chief Research Advisor Pavel Etingof, RSI Faculty Advisor David Jerison, and PRIMES/RSI head mentor Tanya Khovanova!

MIT Students Take First Place in the 84th Putnam Math Competition

From left to right, front row: Putnam Fellows Ankit Bisain, Papon Lapate, Jiangqi Dai, Brian Liu, and Luke Robitaille, and Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize winner Isabella Zhu. In the background are MIT students recognized for finishing in the top 26.

For the fourth time in the history of the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, and for the fourth year in a row, all five of the top spots in the contest, known as Putnam Fellows, came from a single school — MIT.

Putnam Fellows include three repeats, sophomores Papon Lapate and Luke Robitaille, and junior Brian Liu, plus junior Ankit Bisain and first-year Jiangqi Dai. Each receives an award of $2,500.

MIT’s 2023 Putnam team, made up of Bisain, Lapate, and Robitaille, also finished in first place — MIT’s eighth first-place win in the past 10 competitions. Teams are based on the three top scorers from each institution. The institution with the first-place team receives a $25,000 award, and each team member receives $1,000.

The top scoring female, first-year Isabella Zhu, received the Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize, which includes a $1,000 award. She is the seventh MIT student to receive this honor since the award began in 1992.

In total, 68 out of the top 100 test-takers who took the exam on December 2, 2023, were MIT students. Beyond the top 5 scorers, MIT students took 8 of the next 11 spots (each awarded $1,000), 7 of the next 10 after that (each awarded $250), and 48 out of a total of 75 honorable mentions.

“I am incredibly proud of our students’ amazing effort and performance at the Putnam Competition,” says Associate Professor of Mathematics Yufei Zhao ’10, PhD ’15. “MIT is truly a unique place to be a math major.”

Congratulations to everyone who participated in this year's exam!

A full list of the winners can be found on the Putnam website.

Read more in the MIT News.

Grad Students Ishan Levy and Mehtaab Sawhney Receive Clay Research Fellowships

Ishan Levy Mehtaab Sawhney

Ishan Levy and Mehtaab Sawhney have been awarded 2024 Clay Research Fellowships, for a term of five years.

Levy is known for his contributions to homotopy theory, and Sawhney is recognized for his breakthroughs on fundamental problems across extremal combinatorics, probability theory, and theoretical computer science.

Other current Fellows with MIT Math connections include researcher Yang Li, who received it in 2020; Assistant Professor Lisa Piccirillo, and former postdocs Maggie Miller and Alexander Smith, in 2021; and CLE Moore Instructor Ziquan Zhuang, in 2022.

Congratulations, Ishan and Mehtaab!

Department Welcomes Professor Aleksandr Logunov

Aleksandr Logunov

Please welcome Aleksandr Logunov, who joined our faculty as a full professor as of January 1. Aleksandr specializes in harmonic analysis, potential theory, and geometric analysis.

He received his BS in 2012 and, under Viktor Petrovich Havin, his PhD in 2015 from St. Petersburg State University, and was a postdoc at Tel Aviv University. He was a researcher and assistant professor at the Institute for Advanced Study and Princeton University, and most recently a professor at the University of Geneva.

He is the 2021 recipient of the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics — New Horizons in Mathematics, 2020 EMS Prize of the European Mathematical Society, 2018 Salem Prize, and 2017 Clay Research Award.

Congratulations, Aleksandr!