Joel (J.N.) Franklin, Professor of Applied Mathematics, Emeritus, passed away on November 18, 2017 at the age of 87. Professor Franklin joined Caltech in 1957 and worked closely with Gilbert McCann, professor of applied science, who was one of the early champions of computing at Caltech (and inventor of an analog computer in 1946). Professor Dan Meiron recalls, "Joel excelled as a scholar and researcher … if any of us in applied math—and the Institute in general—had any questions about matrix theory, linear programming, etc. we could consult with Joel and he always pointed us to the relevant results often connected to work he had done in the past." [Caltech story]
Caltech's Hixon Writing Center team has expanded to include two STEM writing specialists, Christina Birch who has a PhD in biological engineering from MIT and Erin Burkett who has a PhD in geophysics from UC Davis. Hixon director Susanne Hall describes, “now a student in any scientific discipline can come into the writing center and get help on their academic writing from a tutor with firsthand experience of the styles and genres of scientific communication." The center has also begun a partnership with the Division of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS) to bring STEM writing instruction directly into classrooms. "Communication is of fundamental importance for students today, but it's hard to learn in isolation," Professor Adam Wierman says. "Being able to partner with Hixon to embed writing and communication into my course allowed us to teach students at the moment they needed it.” [Caltech story] [ENGenious snap shot on new EAS course E111]
Take a deep dive into a crucial moment in technological history with Carver Mead, Gordon and Betty Moore Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Emeritus. In this first of a series of videos being produced by the Caltech Archives, titled 'My First Chip’, Professor Mead tells the story of meeting Gordon Moore, who would soon predict that every year the semiconductor industry would double the number of transistors that could be fabricated on a commercial integrated circuit. Carver Mead and his students worked on the physics of ultra-small transistors, and showed that, in addition to allowing greater density, they ran faster and used less power. This work proved that Moore’s prediction did not violate any laws of physics, and it became known as 'Moore's Law'–the term coined and made famous by Professor Mead.
Mathematics and Computer Science student Ching-Yun (Chloe) Hsu, mentored by Professors Chris Umans and Rupert Frank, is a recipient of the 2017 Henry Ford II Scholar Award. She is researching generalized Fourier transform on groups, and will be working on a geometric modeling project. In the past, she has studied the prism manifold realization problem and the k-SUM problem. The Henry Ford II Scholar Award is funded under an endowment provided by the Ford Motor Company Fund. The award is made annually to engineering students with the best academic record at the end of the third year of undergraduate study.
Christopher Umans, Professor of Computer Science, is the recipient of the 2017 Northrop Grumman Prize for Excellence in Teaching. The Prize is awarded to an EAS professor who demonstrates, in the broadest sense, unusual ability, creativity, and innovation in undergraduate and graduate classroom or laboratory teaching. A nomination for Professor Umans read, “his course on computational complexity has become the de facto way that students decide if they're interested in computer science. It is an extremely challenging, mathematical course but his crisp, entertaining lectures bring everyone along.” Students in his class described it as, “my favorite class at Caltech so far", and ”I didn't think I liked theoretical CS until I took this course.”
The critically acclaimed television series The Mechanical Universe… And Beyond, created at Caltech and broadcast on PBS from 1985-86, is now available in its entirety on YouTube thanks to the efforts of Caltech's Institute's Information Science and Technology initiative. [Caltech story] [Watch the show]
Thomas Vidick, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is co-teaching a massive open online course (MOOC)—CS/Ph 120, Quantum Cryptography—focused on the ways in which quantum mechanics can be used to create secure lines of communication. "It's a hot topic, but there are very few resources for people wanting to go beyond just the basics. Very few schools will even have a quantum cryptography course," Vidick says. [Caltech story] [Vidick blog]
Janet C. Campagna (MS ’85, Social Science) has been named a 2016 Caltech Distinguished Alumna for her contributions to quantitative investment and for her leadership in the financial industry. She is the founder of QS Investors and a member of the Caltech IST Council. The information science and technology (IST) council helps increase national and global awareness of research in information science and technology as well as garner support for it. [Alumni story]
Christopher Umans, Professor of Computer Science, has been named a Simons Investigator in Computer Science by the Simons Foundation’s Mathematics and Physical Sciences Division. The award honors and supports "outstanding scientists in their most productive years, when they are establishing creative new research directions, providing leadership to the field and effectively mentoring junior scientists." Professor Umans’ research centers on algorithms and complexity. He has made contributions to the understanding of randomness in computation, and algorithms for fundamental algebraic problems which includes developing a group-theoretic approach for matrix multiplication. [List of awardees] [Caltech story]