You are here

MAA Online: News and Features

Prizes and Awards
Mathematical Association of America

January 2000
Joint Mathematics Meetings at Washington, DC


Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Awards for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics

In 1991, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) instituted Awards for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics in order to honor teachers who have been widely recognized as extraordinarily successful and whose teaching effectiveness has been shown to have had influence beyond their own institutions. In 1993, the MAA Board of Governors renamed the award to honor Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo. Deborah Tepper Haimo was President of the MAA in 1991-92. The award winners will speak at a session on Friday, January 21, 2000, 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.


Arthur T. Benjamin

Citation

Professor Benjamin's lecture style, as described in hundreds of student evaluations, is "entertaining," "enthusiastic," and highly interactive. Students described his lectures as lucid and well organized, and they clearly detect his personal love of mathematics and are inspired by that. Professor Benjamin views teaching, in part, as a performing art, and he builds on more than 20 years of experience performing as a magician and a "lightning mental calculator." This experience helps him establish immediately, a real presence in the classroom. His approach to teaching inspires the students to learn, and to become active participants in the process of discovering mathematics. For example, so that he may have their active participation from the first day of class, before the term starts, Professor Benjamin memorizes the names of his students-to-be from their photographs. At the first lecture, he calls on students by name. It makes a great impression on the class, and he immediately sets about taking advantage of the atmosphere by drawing them into the world of mathematics.

Professor Benjamin is also a very important mentor to young faculty members in his department. They are clearly inspired by his dedication and success to improve their own teaching, and to strive always for the highest standards for student learning and appreciation of mathematics.

Professor Benjamin introduced weekly Putnam Exam preparation sessions in 1990, and coached the Putnam team from 1990 to 1997. In 1990, they had a handful of students take the Putnam Exam. In 1999, they had 60 students take the exam, a remarkable achievement. The Harvey Mudd team ranked third in the nation in 1991, and ninth in 1997.

An important part of Professor Benjamin's success has been in the area of student research. He has supervised 16 senior theses since 1991, and conducted numerous independent studies, many of which have evolved into research publications.

To show that he really practices what he preaches, he has published two books, Teach Your Child Math (1991) and Mathemagics: How to Look Like a Genius Without Really Trying (1993), wherein he communicates his belief (with practical methods) that everyone can learn to do mathematics better and have fun at the same time.

Professor Benjamin's widespread recognition as a truly extraordinary teacher, his passionate dedication to mathematics and its pedagogy, and his nationwide reputation as one of the most successful ambassadors for mathematics clearly qualify him superbly for a Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. It is a great delight to be able to honor him by conferring this Award upon him.

Biographical Note

Arthur Benjamin earned his B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University and his Ph.D. in Mathematical Sciences from Johns Hopkins, where he studied discrete optimization under Alan J. Goldman. In 1988, he was awarded the Nicholson Prize from the Operations Research Society of America for the best student paper in Operations Research. Since 1989, he has taught at Harvey Mudd College, where he is currently an Associate Professor of Mathematics. He is the editor of the Spectrum book series for the MAA, and an associate editor of Mathematics Magazine and The UMAP Journal. Aside from his research interests in combinatorics and game theory, he enjoys tournament backgammon, racing calculators, and performing magic.

Response from Professor Benjamin

I am deeply honored to receive this award. Teaching has always given me great satisfaction, so it feels a little funny to be recognized for doing something I consider so much fun. It has always been my dream to bring mathematics to the masses, both inside and outside of the classroom. I have learned that students respond best to mathematics that has real-world applications or a beautiful theory they can understand. Thus I strive to include in each lecture elements of "relevance and elegance."

I am fortunate to be surrounded by so many talented colleagues and students. I am particularly grateful to Professors Mike Moody, Hank Krieger, and Bob Borrelli for all of their support and encouragement, and to my wife Deena for her love. Finally, I wish to thank Deborah Haimo for all she has done to support mathematics nationally, locally, and one student at a time.


Return to Top


Donald S. Passman

Citation

Professor Passman is a mathematician of exceptional intelligence, keen insight, extraordinary mathematical ability, and keen sensitivity, who has a deep and natural understanding of the learning process in mathematics. He brings all these attributes to bear on both his teaching and research. A regular teacher of the calculus sequence (lectures of size approximately 200) he has influenced thousands of students who have become mathematicians, scientists, engineers, or just educated citizens of the state of Wisconsin.

Professor Passman's sense of humor, his compassion, his clear and elegant exposition, his relaxed and seemingly effortless style make him an extraordinary teacher of students at all levels.

Professor Passman is also an awesome mathematical researcher with more than 140 research publications and five books. He has spoken all over the world in conferences and colloquia. He is currently on the editorial board of six journals. In 1995, he was named the Richard Brauer Professor of Mathematics. In 1998, he won the Underkofler Excellence in Teaching Award given by the University of Wisconsin System.

Here is what a student in his Modern Algebra course has to say:

"This man is incredible. All other profs should have to sit in his class so they could be at least half of the prof Passman is. He teaches very difficult things using everyday language making the material more approachable, more friendly. He has a great sense of humor, not a joke to take everyone's focus off math for a bit, but tells mathematical jokes, making math more fun, making it so I want to learn it more. I have had him in past classes, he isn't an 'easy A' prof. You may have to work your butt off to get an A from him, only he makes it so it's not work, but fun; the man is a legend."

Professor Passman has also been involved in an area that not many mathematicians venture into. For a long time he has taken an interest in K-12 mathematics education. He has run enrichment classes in elementary school, he regularly coaches a Math Counts team in middle school, and he is co-director of the Wisconsin Mathematics, Engineering and Science Talent Search for high school students.

Clearly, Professor Passman is an extraordinary teacher of mathematics whose qualities are evident at all levels of education thereby making him an outstanding candidate for the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. It is a great pleasure to pay tribute to this wonderful teacher in this way.

Biographical Note

Donald S. Passman was born in New York City in 1940. He attended the Bronx High School of Science, the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (B.S. in 1960), and Harvard University (M.A. in 1961 and Ph.D. in 1964). His thesis advisor was the renown Professor Richard Brauer. His research interests include finite and infinite groups, noncommutative ring theory, group rings and enveloping algebras of Lie algebras. In 1963, he married Marjorie Mednick. They have two children Barbara Brownsword and Jonathan Passman and three grandchildren Samuel and Rebecca Brownsword and Abraham Passman. Passman was an Assistant Professor at UCLA (1964-66) and Yale University (1966-69). He came to the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an Associate Professor in 1969 and became a Full Professor in 1972. He is also a frequent visitor at IDA-CRD Princeton and LaJolla.

In 1976, Professor Passman won the MAA's Lester R. Ford award for his paper "What is a group ring?"

Response from Professor Passman

This is a delightful and unexpected honor. I have been very fortunate in my mathematical career. I love doing research, I love teaching, and I am a member of a department that values both and is very strong in both. I have many colleagues in Madison who are truly exceptional teachers, and I am pleased to share this wonderful award with them. Thank you.


Return to Top


Gary W. Towsley

Citation

The hallmarks that set Professor Towsley apart from other excellent teachers are versatility, creativity across many disciplines, and personal qualities of integrity, helpfulness, and caring. His enjoyment of mathematics, excitement about teaching, commitment to learning, and genuine concern endears him to students. His classes are the first to fill and are often oversubscribed, and class evaluations of his teaching for more than 23 years places him at the pinnacle of our profession year after year.

He practices what he preaches: high standards that stretch, challenge, and motivate; hard work, perseverance, and diligence; doing mathematics; writing mathematics; refining ones' understanding. He does this by collecting and evaluating homework--lots of it--all corrected by him carefully and thoughtfully.

Over the years, he has taught 24 different undergraduate courses and five graduate courses: geometry, real and complex analysis, number theory, abstract and linear algebra, probability and statistics, numerical analysis, topology. The department offers it, and he has taught it to rave reviews from his students.

Additionally he is multi-disciplined in expertise and has co-taught advanced courses for physics majors, a medieval studies course for English majors (three times), History and Philosophy of Science as an interdisciplinary offering, and "Roots of 20th Century Science" for the college honors program. He is indeed a "Renaissance" scholar who through writing and creative teaching unifies disciplines while developing diversified areas of thought. He is selfless with his time (10 directed studies in the past three years), talents, and knowledge, and has been instrumental in encouraging students to choose mathematics as a major (department's present size: 230 majors). He has mentored several students who have gone on to do graduate work in mathematics or a related discipline.

His outstanding teaching has been recognized with the Chancellor's Excellence in Teaching Award in 1980, as the College's first Lockhart Professor of Mathematics in 1994, and with promotion to Distinguished Teaching Professor, the highest academic rank in the SUNY system, in 1997. It is, therefore, most fitting that this exceptional teacher receives the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College Teaching of Mathematics.

Biographical Note

Professor Towsley received a B.S. in Mathematics from Case Institute of Technology (1968) and an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester (1971 and 1975, respectively). At Rochester, he worked on compact Riemann and Klein surfaces under the direction of Professor Norman Alling. He has taught at SUNY Geneseo since 1974, being named the first Lockhart Professor of Mathematics in 1994 and Distinguished Teaching Professor in 1997.

Response from Professor Towsley

I am deeply appreciative of the Haimo Teaching Award. There are too many teachers I have learned the craft from to mention them by name but I treasure the examples of passion for mathematics, creativity in exposition, and sincere concern for students that I have witnessed over the last forty years. I would also like to thank SUNY Geneseo and its mathematics department for allowing me the freedom to experiment with a wide range of courses both inside and outside the department.


Return to Top



Beckenbach Book Prize

The Beckenbach Book Prize, established in 1986, is the successor to the MAA Book Prize. It is named for the late Edwin Beckenbach, a longtime leader in the publications program of the Association and a well-known professor of mathematics at the University of California at Los Angeles. The prize is awarded for distinguished, innovative books published by the Association.


David M. Bressoud

Proofs and Confirmations, the Story of the Alternating Sign Matrix Conjecture, Spectrum Series, 1999

Citation

The Beckenbach Prize Committee enthusiastically recommends Proofs and Confirmations, the Story of the Alternating Sign Matrix Conjecture by David Bressoud, for the prize. This book has several outstanding features. First and foremost, it carefully presents a significant chapter of mathematics. Moreover, it demonstrates how mathematics is actually created. It brings out the interplay among several seemingly unrelated branches, and also discusses unsolved problems.

The reader is engaged in a number of ways. There are many examples, and an abundant supply of exercises at all levels of difficulty (including computer exercises). The author traces the history in detail, with many illustrations and photographs. There is even a contribution to the philosophy of mathematics, namely the discussion of the role of proof. All in all, Bressoud's book is a model of how a mathematics book should be written.

Biographical Note

David M. Bressoud teaches and thrives at Macalester College, St. Paul, MN. He was an undergraduate at Swarthmore, a Peace Corps Volunteer in Antigua, West Indies, received his Ph.D. from Temple University, and taught at the Pennsylvania State University before moving to Macalester. He has held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Wisconsin, University of Minnesota, and University of Strasbourg. He received the MAA Distinguished Teaching Award in 1994. In addition to Proofs and Confirmations, he has written Factorization and Primality Testing; Second Year Calculus from Celestial Mechanics to Special Relativity; and A Radical Approach to Real Analysis. In addition, he has recently coauthored A Course in Computational Number Theory.

Response from Professor Bressoud

This is an incredible honor before which I am very humble. I treasure many of the books that have won this prize. They have served as inspirations for my own writing.

I tried to tell a story, the best mathematical story that I have personally witnessed. I believe that it is important to tell these stories, that it is through them that we most effectively communicate our mathematical heritage to the next generation. I applaud the MAA for encouraging the publication of such stories.

Finally, I want to publicly acknowledge and thank George Andrews and Richard Askey, mentors who have shared with me their personal joy and thrill of mathematics. Without their guidance and encouragement early in my career, I doubt that this book would ever have been written.



Return to Top


Certificates of Meritorious Service

The Certificates of Meritorious Service are presented for service to the MAA at the national level or for service to a Section of the Association. The first such awards were made in 1984. At each January meeting of the Association, honorees from roughly six Sections are recognized.

Kathleen Taylor, Allegheny Section

Citation

It is with great pleasure that the Allegheny Mountain Section of the MAA nominates Kathy Taylor of Duquesne University for the Meritorious Service Award. Over the past two decades, she has served in many elected offices. She was our first Newsletter Editor (1978-84) and was responsible for starting what is now our major source for Section news and activities. She has been 2nd Vice President (1981-82), 1st Vice President (1982-83), Section Chairperson (1985-87), and Section Governor (1993-96). She has also served on many nominating committees. Generally, when the Section needs someone to do something, Kathy is always willing to step forward and do the task happily. She is one of our most able leaders and one of our most active participants in Section activities.

We appreciate what Kathy has done for the Allegheny Mountain Section and the MAA, and are proud to nominate her for the Meritorious Service Award.

Response from Professor Taylor

I am very pleased to be the latest recipient of the Meritorious Service Award from the Allegheny Mountain Section of the MAA. Both the local Section and the national organization are important resources for all who are interested in every aspect of collegiate mathematics. It has been an honor for me to work with other members of the Section and to serve on the national Board of Governors. Thank you for this honor.


Return to Top


Elizabeth J. Teles, MD-DC-VA Section

Citation

The Maryland-District of Columbia-Virginia Section is proud to honor Elizabeth J. Teles with its Certificate of Meritorious Service. She has many years of outstanding service to both the Section and national MAA. As Program Chair she arranged lively meetings of interest to a wide audience of members. As Section Chair and, later, Governor, she led the Section with great enthusiasm. Currently, she is Section Secretary, thereby continuing her long tradition of service. Dr. Teles has been equally involved at the national level. She was member and chair of the Committee on Two-Year Colleges and the Committee on Sessions of Contributed Papers. She was for many years the Software Reviews Editor for the College Mathematics Journal. Other committee memberships include the Committee on Faculty Development, the Committee on Computers in Mathematics Education, and the Advisory Board for the Interactive Mathematics Text Project. She has organized many contributed paper sessions and panel discussions at national meetings. An award-winning teacher at Montgomery College for more than 20 years, Dr. Teles continues her leadership in collegiate mathematics education as Program Director in the Division of Undergraduate Education at the National Science Foundation.

Response from Elizabeth Teles

Thank you to my friends and colleagues in the Maryland-DC-Virginia Section of the MAA for this special honor. The Section and the national MAA organization have served a very important role in my career as a mathematician, but as importantly I have formed personal friendships over the years with MAA members. I am very appreciative to the Section for this recognition and look forward to many more years of professional growth and friend ship.


Return to Top


Sister M. Stephanie Sloyan, New Jersey Section

Citation

The New Jersey Section of the Mathematical Association of America has selected Sister M. Stephanie Sloyan, R.S.M., Professor Emerita of Mathematics, Georgian Court College, Lakewood, NJ, as the recipient of the MAA Certificate of Meritorious Service in recognition of her many years of leadership and dedication.

A familiar face at national and Section meetings, Sr. Stephanie Sloyan is well known for her commitment to the goals of the MAA. A member of the MAA since 1952, and one of the founders of the New Jersey Section (1956), she has served the MAA in many capacities: Section Vice Chair for Speakers; Chair-Elect, Chair (1985-87), and Past of the Chair of the Section; Governor of the Section (1988-91); and a member of the MAA Committee on Sections and numerous NJ Section committees. In 1991, she became the first recipient of the MAA-NJ Section Distinguished Teaching Award and has since served as Chair of the Selection Committee for this award.

Sr. Stephanie has been a role model for women who aspire to a career in mathematics. She was responsible for the formation of the Pi Mu Epsilon Chapter and the MAA Student Chapter at Georgian Court College. Sr. Stephanie has always actively encouraged her colleagues and students to attend Section meetings. In 1996, she made a presentation of the history of the New Jersey Section at the 40th anniversary meeting. She has hosted several Section meetings and will host yet again this spring at Georgian Court.

Sr. Stephanie Sloyan holds an A.B. degree (1945) with a major in Natural Science and a minor in Mathematics from Georgian Court College, an M.A. (1949) and a Ph.D. (1952) both in Mathematics from the Catholic University of America. She has been a faculty member at Georgian Court College since joining the Department of Mathematics in 1952. Following a term as President (1968-74), she returned to the department as chairperson until 1996. During her years as chair, she established a Master's Degree program in Mathematics and a minor in Computer Science.

Whatever her specific office in the Mathematical Association of America, Sr. Stephanie has always been ready to give guidance and assistance to others. The New Jersey Section is very pleased to nominate Sister M. Stephanie Sloyan for the Meritorious Service award and is grateful for her many years of invaluable service.

Response from Sister Sloyan

I am grateful and honored to receive this award from the New Jersey Section and especially to Naomi Shapiro, Evan Alderfer and Terry Michnowicz who nominated me. I should like to add something of my experience in summer school teaching. In the summer of 1953, I was invited by Dr. Raymond Moller of the Catholic University of America to teach Geometry I to students seeking a Master's degree. I did this, followed the next summer by Geometry I and Geometry II, all classes in Catholic University. I followed this program for a number of years having at first small classes and later large classes. For me this was an excellent experience. I hope the students could say the same.


Return to Top


Stanley Eliason, Oklahoma-Arkansas Section

Citation

The Oklahoma-Arkansas Section has selected Professor Stanley Eliason of the University of Oklahoma to receive the Certificate of Meritorious Service.

Professor Eliason has a distinguished record of service to the MAA and indeed to the mathematics profession. He has been an enthusiastic and effective promoter of the profession over many years. In fact, many of the former students for whom he served as a mentor are now members of the Oklahoma-Arkansas Section.

He served as Secretary-Treasurer for this Section (1991-96). He was a member of the Committee on Teaching of Undergraduate Mathematics of the MAA (1990-93). He has been a member of the national MAA Coordinating Council for Competitions since 1995 and a member of the national MAA Committee on Local and Regional Competitions since 1997. Professor Eliason is also a member of the Board of Governors of IMO-2001, the International Math Olympiad, to be held in Washington, DC, in 2001 and has served as a member of the national MAA Planning Committee for the January 2000 meeting in Washington, DC.

Professor Eliason has dedicated extensive service to Mu Alpha Theta, an honorary mathematics society for high school and junior college students. He has served as National Secretary-Treasurer of Mu Alpha Theta since 1993 and has worked tirelessly to promote this organization.

Response from Professor Eliason

I feel most honored to receive the Certificate of Meritorious Service Award from the MAA.

For this award I must credit the members of the Oklahoma-Arkansas Section who served as officers, Section meeting hosts, speakers and general volunteers for the years I served as Secretary-Treasurer. Their service was in turn supported and encouraged by numerous mathematics departments in the two-state region. Without their endeavors and good wishes this award would not have been possible.

I also wish to extend appreciation to the national officers of the MAA who supported the work of the Oklahoma-Arkansas Section; and also extend appreciation to a number of them who over the years have helped to foster the work of the Mu Alpha Theta.

Thank you all very much.


Return to Top


Mario Martelli, Southern California Section

Citation

Professor Mario Martelli came from a professorship at his native University of Florence, Italy, to the United States in 1980 and became a member of the Southern California Section of the MAA in 1987, when he was appointed to a position as Professor at California State University at Fullerton. He served the Section as Program Vice-Chair in 1993-94 and Program Chair in 1994-95, and in those positions was instrumental in obtaining outstanding speakers and programs. From 1996 through 1999, he served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Section, and he was an enabling force and organizer that kept everything running smoothly.

However, Mario's unique and perhaps most important contribution to mathematics and to the MAA in Southern California is the result of his special work with undergraduate students. Mario is both a first-rate research mathematician and an outstanding teacher. He was awarded the Section's Distinguished Teacher Award in 1994 and the Outstanding Teacher Award of the entire California State University system a year later. His clear and interesting lectures and his infectious enthusiasm for mathematics and for research attracts and inspires students, and at his urging many of his students have attended MAA meetings. Mario believes strongly in the value of having students engage in research and present their work to the mathematical community at MAA meetings. He quickly has many of his own students working on research ideas. A number have written papers with Mario, and many more have presented posters on their work at our Section meetings. At least five of his students have presented posters at annual meetings of the AMS/MAA. Most notably, one student was chosen to present a poster at the Poster Session for Members of the U.S. Congress organized by the Council on Undergraduate Research in Washington, DC, in April 1998. Following Mario's lead, other faculty members have also persuaded their students to present their work at our Section meetings, and this is now a well-established tradition.

In recognition of his years of service and leadership, the Southern California Section is proud to present the year 2000 Certificate for Meritorious Service to Professor Mario Martelli.

Response from Professor Martelli

To be nominated by the Southern California Section for this award, with a particular mention of the work I have done with undergraduates at the local and national level, is one more piece of the beautiful mosaic celebrating the MAA commitment to education. To make a difference in the life of my students by offering them a very comprehensive and rich perspective of mathematics as an art in itself, and as a bridge between the past and the future for other disciplines, has always been my first priority. The award I receive today seems to suggest that I have succeeded in this effort. Together with my students' appreciation, this is the best recognition I could have ever dreamed of. Thank you.



Return to Top


Chauvenet Prize

The Chauvenet Prize for expository writing, first awarded in 1925 to Gilbert Bliss of the University of Chicago, is given for an outstanding expository article on a mathematical topic by a member of the Association. The prize is named for William Chauvenet, a professor of mathematics at the United States Naval Academy. It was established through a gift in 1925 from J. L. Coolidge, then MAA President.


Don Zagier

"Newman's short proof of the prime number theorem," American Mathematical Monthly 104 (1997), 705-708

Citation

Don Zagier dedicates his article to the prime number theorem on the occasion of its 100th birthday. This theorem, which is one of the most fundamental and beautiful results in number theory, was originally proved independently by Hadamard and de la Vallée Poussin. Their proofs were lengthy and complicated. In a 1980 Monthly article, Donald J. Newman developed a very simple and elegant Tauberian argument needed for an analytic proof of the prime number theorem. Zagier's article is based on Newman's approach and gives a completely self-contained yet concise analytic proof of the prime number theorem. It is a masterpiece of excellent mathematical exposition and is accessible to anyone with a minimum background in complex analysis.

Biographical Note

Don Zagier was born in 1951 on both German and American soil, and this dual European and American existence has continued throughout his life. He graduated from high school in California in 1965, took his English "A-levels" in 1966, earned his B.Sc. in mathematics and physics from MIT in 1968 and his D.Phil. from Oxford in 1972 (though actually completing his thesis in Bonn under the supervision of F. Hirzebruch). After post-doc positions in Switzerland and France, he worked both in Bonn (first in the "SFB" and since 1984 at the Max Planck Institute of Mathematics, of which he is now a director) and at the University of Maryland, where he was a professor from 1979 till 1990, spending half of each year in each country. Since 1990 he has also been a professor at the University of Utrecht in Holland.

His main research interests are in number theory, especially Diophantine equations and the theory of modular forms, but he has also worked on various questions of topology, algebraic geometry, or mathematical physics which have a strong number-theoretical or combinatorial component. Together with B. Gross he proved a result in the direction of the Birch-Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture which, in conjunction with a previous result of D. Goldfeld, led to the solution of Gauss's class number problem, and for this work he received the 1987 Frank Nelson Cole Prize of the AMS jointly with these two mathematicians. Other awards include the German Carus medal, the French Elie Cartan prize, and membership in several academies.

Response from Professor Zagier

The challenge of finding the "best" proof and the best exposition of a mathematical theorem has always seemed to me one of the most enjoyable and attractive tasks in mathematics, so I was delighted to learn that I would receive the Chauvenet Prize for my presentation of D.J. Newman's wonderful proof of the prime number theorem. I had read the elementary but difficult proof of this theorem by Selberg and Erdös at an early age, since it forms the climax of Hardy and Wright's Introduction to the Theory of Numbers which I had won as a prize while in school in England. (Reading this book, by the way, was one of the main reasons that I became a number theorist, so I was happy to learn that Hardy had won one of the first Chauvenet Prizes for an expository article with the same title.) When I learned of Newman's approach, I felt that the "right" proof of the prime number theorem had finally been found, and I am happy that I was able to contribute to its popularization.



Return to Top


Frank and Brennie Morgan AMS-MAA-SIAM Prize for Outstanding Research in Mathematics by an Undergraduate Student


The Frank and Brennie Morgan Prize recognizes and encourages outstanding mathematical research by undergraduate students. Undergraduates are working on problems of current research interest, proving theorems, writing up results for publication, and giving talks on their work. There is undergraduate research today at the highest standards of professional excellence. The prize was endowed by Mrs. Frank Morgan and also carries the name of her late husband.


Sean Thomas McLaughlin

Citation

The 1999 winner of the Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research by an Undergraduate is Sean Thomas McLaughlin, whose undergraduate studies are being conducted at the University of Michigan. His submission for the prize is based on his proof of the "Dodecahedral Conjecture," a major problem in discrete geometry related to, but distinct from, Kepler's sphere packing problem, and a conjecture that has resisted the efforts of the strongest workers in this area for nearly sixty years.

The committee formed the opinion that the solution of this old, difficult conjecture constituted a singular achievement of such stature that this work alone was deserving of the highest recognition. Letters written in support of his nomination convincingly detailed the fundamental contributions made by McLaughlin to the resolution of the Dodecahedral Conjecture, and also the excitement on the international scene accompanying the latter's proof.

The strength of his research, together with the emphatically enthusiastic letters detailing his achievements, offer convincing evidence that he is an outstanding candidate, and the committee is proud to give the 1999 Frank and Brennie Morgan prize to Sean McLaughlin.

Biographical Note

Sean Thomas McLaughlin is a double major in mathematics and clarinet performance at the University of Michigan. In his free time he enjoys soccer and hiking.

Response from Sean McLaughlin

I couldn't have done any of this work without many hours of discussion with Tom Hales and Sam Furgeson. It was really a group effort all around. I'd also like to recognize the REU and UROP programs which partially funded this research for the better part of two years. Finally, thank you to Gabor Fejes-Toth for inviting me to present the proof at the mathematics institute in Budapest.


Return to Top


Honorable Mention

Samit Dasgupta

Citation

The work of Samit Dasgupta is amazingly sophisticated and diverse. His papers address problems from number theory, social choice theory, group theory, and combinatorics. The research on Stark's Conjectures, presented as his honors thesis at Harvard, is particularly impressive. Dasgupta has shown deep understanding of this area in modern number theory, exhibiting a solid background in complex analysis and class field theory. He has extended the computational work to a setting that had never been considered. He and Daniel Biss (Morgan Prize 1998) showed their extensive understanding of algebra in "A presentation for the unipotent group over rings with identity" (submitted for publication). His paper, "On the size of minimum super arrovian domains" (SIAM Journal of Discrete Mathematics) significantly extends results of Fishburn and Kelly on a generalization of Arrow's "impossibility theorem." Samit Dasgupta is an extraordinarily versatile mathematician and the committee is pleased to grant him Honorable Mention for the 1999 Morgan Prize.

Biographical Note

Samit Dasgupta grew up in Silver Spring, MD. He was introduced to mathematics, in particular number theory, at the Ross Young Scholars Program at Ohio State University during the summer of 1992 and conducted his first original research at the Research Science Institute at MIT in the summer of 1994. There, he wrote a number theory paper for which he won fourth place in the Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Additional high school awards included the 1995 USA Mathematical Olympiad and winning a place on the USA Today All-Academic Team.

In 1999, Dasgupta graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University with an A.B. degree in mathematics. His primary interest in college was number theory, though he enjoyed conducting research in combinatorics and group theory at Professor Gallian's Research Experience for Undergraduates Program in Duluth, MN. During college, he was a course assistant for Freshman Honors Calculus and also for Abstract Algebra. Dasgupta received Certificates for Distinction in Teaching for both classes. He also received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship and was awarded the David Mumford Prize by the Harvard Mathematics Department.

Samit Dasgupta is currently a research assistant for Professors Martin Feldstein and John Campbell at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, MA. He plans to attend graduate school in mathematics in the fall of 2000.

Response from Samit Dasgupta

I am very honored to receive the Honorable Mention award for the 2000 Frank and Brennie Morgan Prize. I would like to thank all those who assisted me in my research by providing guidance, suggestions, and encouragement. In particular, I would like to recognize Professor Brian Conrad (Harvard University), Professor Joseph Gallian (University of Minnesota-Duluth), and Daniel Biss (MIT).



Return to Top


Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics

The Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics is the most prestigious award made by the Association. This award, first given in 1990, is the successor to the Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics, awarded since 1962, and has been made possible by the late Dr. Hu and his wife, Yueh-Gin Gung. It is worth noting that Dr. Hu was not a mathematician. He was a retired professor of geology at the University of Maryland. He had such strong feelings about the basic nature of mathematics and its importance in all human endeavors that he felt impelled to contribute generously to our discipline.


Paul R. Halmos

Citation

No mathematician alive today has influenced American mathematics more than Paul Halmos. He has written important research papers in operator theory, ergodic theory, and logic. He has edited major journals and served on many committees for the AMS and MAA. He has written textbooks and expository articles. His lectures always give us new insights.

Halmos came to the United States from Hungary as a teenager. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1934 and received his Ph.D. there in 1938, working with J.L. Doob. Since then he has been on the regular faculty at Illinois, Syracuse, Chicago, Michigan, Hawaii, Indiana, Santa Barbara, and Santa Clara, and held visiting appointments at several other places, both here and abroad. (He describes himself as "restless.")

Halmos was the editor of the Proceedings of the AMS from 1958 to 1963, an editor of the Indiana University Journal of Mathematics (formerly the Journal of Mathematics and Mechanics) from 1969 to 1986, the book reviews editor of the Bulletin of the AMS from 1974 to 1979, and the editor of the American Mathematical Monthly from 1982 to 1986. He has been a member of the council of the AMS and served on countless committees of the AMS and MAA including a Committee to Prepare a Pamphlet to Aid in Reading Russian Mathematical Articles.

Halmos has always believed in the importance of proof in mathematics, but he thinks that conceptual understanding is equally important. For him a "good" proof of a theorem is one that sheds light on why it's true. This makes him ambivalent about proofs (e.g., of the four-color theorem) that rely heavily on computers. It has also encouraged him to write books that emphasize ideas in addition to proofs; his lectures and writings often take fresh approaches designed to highlight the conceptual aspects of his topic.

He was von Neumann's assistant at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1939-40 and von Neumann's lectures on operator theory inspired him to write Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces (1942), the first book to adopt an operator point of view toward this important topic, which was, in those days, a graduate level subject. His second book, Measure Theory (1950), was another first, presenting at the beginning graduate level many topics in measure and integration that had been considered only at the research level, for example, the essential relation between measure theory and probability theory. Halmos' book made a great deal of this material accessible and still delimits that part of the theory that graduate students are expected to know. Other books have followed, thirteen in all, introductory books, problems books, books of lectures. Several of his works have been translated into other languages.

Halmos' books, and his shorter papers as well, are distinguished by clarity of exposition that has been recognized by the MAA with the Chauvenet Prize, the Pólya Prize, and two Lester R. Ford Awards; the AMS has awarded him the Steele Prize for mathematical exposition.

With his extraordinary energy and exceptional talent for exposition, Paul Halmos has been an invaluable asset to the mathematical community.

Response from Paul R. Halmos

Friends, colleagues, amateurs --

We are all amateurs, aren't we -- lovers of mathematics ?

My reaction when I learned that I was to receive the Gung Hu award was: "Who -- me?" Of course I felt greatly pleased, hugely flattered, and deeply honored. The preliminary announcement reached me on the 30,469th day of my life -- and you all immediately recognize -- don't you? -- that's a prime day.

The regulations governing the award state that it is to be made for service to mathematics -- and that too pleases me. Mathematics has been my master during all my adult life, and I value being recognized as a faithful servant.

I regret that I couldn't be with you in the body when the announcement was made, but I was very much with you in spirit.

Thank you -- thank you all -- thank you very much.


Return to Top


Dummy View - NOT TO BE DELETED