Courant’s Deift, Who has Shown a Connection Between Quantum Physics and Solitaire, Elected to National Academy of Sciences


Percy Deift, a professor at New York University s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Washington, D.C.-based organization announced today. Deift s work has shown a powerful similarity between a simple form of solitaire and random matrices, a mathematical tool originally developed to decipher the quantum behavior of large atoms.

Percy Deift
Percy Deift

Percy Deift, a professor at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the Washington, D.C.-based organization announced today. Deift’s work has shown a powerful similarity between a simple form of solitaire and random matrices, a mathematical tool originally developed to decipher the quantum behavior of large atoms.

Deift was among the 72 new members and 18 foreign associates from 15 countries who were elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

Deift and his colleagues note that all physical systems in equilibrium exhibit universal behavior-they are all governed by the same laws and formulas of thermodynamics. But Deift, along with Jinho Baik at the University of Michigan and Kurt Johansson of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, have proved that a variety of systems that arise in purely mathematical contexts, including a version of the card game solitaire called “patience sorting,” also exhibit a form of universal behavior.

Because solitaire is a game of chance, each game depending on the hand dealt out, mathematicians have analyzed i 500

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