By the Numb3rs Spring 2015


Chair's Message

In this issue of By the Numb3rs you can read about recent developments in the Department of Mathematics as well as some accomplishments by our Ivan Yotovstudents and faculty. It is bittersweet news that we are announcing the retirement of Dr. Frank Beatrous, Professor and Undergraduate Director.  He has put a tremendous amount of effort to ensure that we provide high quality educational experience to our undergraduates.  Dr. Jon Rubin and Dr. Paul Gartside are stepping in as Undergraduate Directors in the fall semseter.

We are delighted to announce that Dr. Bard Ermentrout has received the Mathematical Neuroscience Prize. The prize is awarded by Israel Brain Technologies and honors researchers worldwide who have significantly advanced our understanding of the neural mechanisms of perception, behavior and thought through the application of mathematical analysis and theoretical modeling.

In March we hosted our first prospective graduate open house.  We had students meet our faculty, tour the campus and join in academic activities to show them first hand what we have to offer.  Our efforts were successful and several of the visiting students are already enrolled for the fall term.
We are pleased to feature Dr. Piotr Hajlasz’s research, which has connections to a broad range of areas in mathematics, including  several complex variables, harmonic analysis, partial differential equations, topology, and differential geometry.

This term we have organized many interesting events funded by the Mathematics Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, including  theme semesters in  “Categories in Algebra, Representation Theory, Geometry, and Topology”, as well as”PDEs and Free Boundary Problems”. We are pleased to acknowledge the partial support of the National Science Foundation and the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications.

An important addition to our web site is a new alumni page. Please fill in any exciting news you would like to share with us. As always, please keep in touch. We would love to hear from you. Visit our web page for information on how to contact us and for the latest news about the Department.

Ermentrout Receives Math Neuroscience Prize

G. Bard ErmentroutG. Bard Ermentrout was at a conference in South Africa in February when he got the news: He had won Israel Brain Technologies’ $100,000 Mathematical Neuroscience Prize.

“I knew I had been nominated, and they said they’d announce the winners in December,” he says. “That time passed. I was in South Africa thinking, ‘I wonder who got it.’” 

Then he checked his email: “Holy cow, I got it! I walked out into the hall and said that about six times!’” 

 Ermentrout—the University Professor of Computational Biology and professor of mathematics—has made a career of using math to understand Visual Cortexbiological systems and processes. In particular, he has focused on neuroscience, using mathematics principles to decipher and understand activity patterns in networks of neurons. He developed simulation software, XPPAUT, that allows the less mathematically sophisticated to visualize complex processes vital to neuroscience, enabling the exploration of dynamical systems. The software has been cited by others in more than 1,000 research papers.  More>