Margaret H. Wright, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University
Abstract: Mathematicians believe, correctly, that they are uniquely qualified to answer complicated questions in science and engineering. But it very often happens that such problems are unsolvable or intractable in their original form. Is it acceptable to say politely "I'm sorry; this problem is impossible" and then return to answering questions that can be answered? Or should we do more? How can we do more? This talk, intended for a general audience, will describe, with examples from the speaker's experiences in optimization, how mathematicians can become local heroes after they say they're sorry.
Biography: Margaret H. Wright is Silver Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics and chair of the Computer Science Department in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University. She received her B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from Stanford University. Her research interests include optimization, scientific computing, and real-world applications. Prior to joining NYU, she worked at Bell Laboratories (AT&T/Lucent Technologies) and Stanford University. She was elected to the National Academy of Engineering (1997), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2001), and the National Academy of Sciences (2005). During 1995-1996 she served as president of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM).