Assaf Naor, a professor at New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, has been awarded the 2011 American Mathematical Society Maxime Bocher Memorial Prize, which recognizes outstanding research in the field of mathematical analysis over a six-year period. The prize, which is awarded every three years, was announced at the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans.
In awarding Naor the Bocher Prize, AMS cited Naor’s work in the area of metric spaces, which are abstract mathematical “universes” in which one can quantitatively measure the distance between any two points. These include distances measured in a three-dimensional world, in which the distance between points is simply the length of the line segment joining them, but encompass other areas as well. Metric spaces are also considered in Internet searches, where the distance between any two web sites is the minimum number of clicks required to pass from one site to another, as well as biology, where researchers measure the similarity between proteins, and in image processing, where one seeks to quantify the similarity between images. Naor’s work applies mathematical analysis to understand the structure of metric spaces, and to devise invariant quantities that can be used to show that certain metric spaces cannot be represented using other metric spaces.
Naor was previously a researcher at Microsoft Research and has been at Courant since 2006. He was awarded the 2008 Salem Prize for his contributions to the structural theory of metric spaces and their applications to computer science. In 2008, he won a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. Naor was one of 20 scientific researchers to receive a fellowship, which includes an unrestricted research grant of $875,000 over five years. He also received a 2008 European Mathematical Society (EMS) Prize, which is given every four years at the European Congresses of Mathematics, and he was an invited speaker at the 2010 International Congress of Mathematicians. Naor and his Courant colleague Subhash Khot are part of a multi-institutional team that was awarded a $10 million National Science Foundation “Expeditions in Computing” grant. Under the grant, the researchers are seeking to bridge fundamental gaps in our understanding of the power and limits of efficient algorithms.
Naor received his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in Mathematics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
About NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
New York University’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences is a leading center for research and education. Established under the leadership of Richard Courant in 1935, the Courant Institute has contributed to U.S. and international science and engineering by promoting an integrated view of mathematics and computer science. The Institute is engaged in broad research activities, applying these disciplines to problems in biology, chemistry, physics, economics, and atmosphere-ocean science. The Courant Institute has played a central role in the development of applied mathematics, analysis, and computer science, and is comprised of a faculty which has received numerous national and international awards in recognition of its extraordinary research accomplishments. For more information please visit www.cims.nyu.edu.