Celebrating Computational Excellence with the 2021 Wolfram Innovator Awards
Leaders in many top organizations and institutions have played a major role in using computational intelligence and pushing the boundaries of how the Wolfram technology stack is leveraged for innovation across fields and disciplines. We recognize these deserving recipients with the Wolfram Innovator Award, which is awarded at the annual Wolfram Technology Conference.
We are pleased to introduce the 2021 Wolfram Innovator Award winners:
Girish Arabale is the founding director of Scigram Technologies Foundation, a not-for-profit education organization seeking to introduce a tinkering culture into schools to foster creativity, excitement and innovation in science learning. At Scigram, Arabale teaches underprivileged children how to program using the Raspberry Pi. He also frequently speaks to children at the K–12 level to teach coding techniques using the Wolfram Language. Currently, Arabale is developing a computational learning platform and is working on a project known as “Computable City” that aims to make every aspect of the city’s ecosystem computable.
Bruno Autin started his professional life in the Laboratoire de Recherches Générales de la Compagnie Française Thomson Houston, where he studied the amplification of acoustic microwaves in cadmium sulfide. He strove to replace classical traveling wave tubes by tiny crystals, the scaling factor being the ratio between sound and light velocities. In 1967, he began working at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), where his research turned quickly toward subnuclear physics with the development of very-high-energy accelerators. Autin started with the first proton collider, the Intersection Storage Rings (ISR), and became introduced to the design and operation of the magnetic systems of accelerators and colliders. The basic theory had been established by Ernest Courant, but matching the architecture of colliders to particle detectors was largely a process of trial and error depending on numerical computations. Finding this to be unsatisfactory, Autin started testing symbolic languages. The first achievement was the shape of the CERN antiproton source calculated with Veltman’s Schoonschip. The saga of the antiprotons continued both at CERN and at Fermilab. Then, during a sabbatical year at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, where he worked on the design of the Advanced Synchrotron Light Source, he tested the first release of Mathematica, which was packaged with the NeXT computer. Having symbolics, numerics, graphics and the notebook interface in one package convinced him to build two packages: Geometrica for geometry and BeamOptics for the investigation of optical systems adapted to projects such as beam emittance optimization for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), muon colliders, neutrino factories and medical synchrotrons. Now retired from CERN, he follows the progress of particle physics and writes particle accelerator documentation for Wolfram Research.
Trevor Bennett is a cofounder at Starfish Space, where he’s giving life to in-orbit services. He earned a doctorate from the University of Colorado, where he was a NASA Space Technology Research Fellow and one of Aviation Week’s “20 Twenties.” Prior to Starfish Space, Bennett designed and developed guidance, navigation and control (GNC) software at NASA and more recently Blue Origin. His journey with Mathematica started in 2013 when he was studying charged spacecraft formation flying. Wolfram’s software allowed development and refinement of a new set of orbit element use cases that could aid spacecraft operations. Bennett has broad technical expertise in GNC, with a particular focus on rendezvous, proximity operations and docking (RPOD).
Bruno Buchberger is a professor of computer mathematics at Johannes Kepler University in Linz, Austria. He is internationally known for his algorithmic theory of Gröbner bases. In recent years, Buchberger established the automated reasoning system Theorema and implemented it with his coworkers and students within Mathematica. Buchberger also contributed to the development of symbolic computation and computer algebra by founding and building up the Journal of Symbolic Computation, the Research Institute for Symbolic Computation (RISC), the Softwarepark Hagenberg and the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria.
Richard Carbone is a digital forensic analyst and researcher at Defence R&D Canada, where his work involves investigations into advanced persistent threats, state actors and insider threats. He writes and designs tools using Mathematica to solve certain digital forensic problems that have not been adequately addressed by either the community or by digital forensic software vendors. (The growth in Mathematica’s image processing capabilities specifically has made the software a useful tool in digital forensics.) Examples of his prototyped tools include a forensic image analysis system and a binary file analysis system, the latter of which helps the user visually identify the underlying data and structure patterns inherent in most file formats. Carbone additionally has conducted research with federal law enforcement to define Canada’s standards for forensic analysis of computer memory.
Bill Gosper was part of the group at MIT that produced HAKMEM, also known as AI Memo 239, a large collection of computer and mathematical hacks, some of which are now quite famous. Stephen Wolfram refers to Gosper as “Ramanujan-like” for his prolific production of mathematical results. He has invented several algorithms for symbolic computation, including ones for symbolic summation and continued fractions. In more recent times, Gosper has been working with the next generation of amazingly bright students, producing remarkable and very surprising research results.
Ming Hsu is an economist and neuroscientist who studies how people make decisions, in terms of both the hardware (i.e. the neural systems that make decision-making possible) and software (i.e. the computations that these neural systems perform). He has used Mathematica extensively since his doctoral work at Caltech, studying the formation and evolution of prices in experimental double auction markets. Subsequent work focused on developing new computational models of choice behavior in decisions under uncertainty and relating these models to behavioral and neural data. In the future, he hopes to utilize the text-analytic capabilities of Mathematica to broaden the range of cognitive functions captured in current models of decision making.
General Vibration is a corporation that focuses on improving the foundation of haptics. The General Vibration team first developed a novel force feedback joystick, and later focused on synchronized vibration of inexpensive eccentric rotating mass vibration motors, which are commonly found in game controllers as well as mobile phones. Sony Interactive Entertainment licenses the company’s entire haptics (intellectual property) portfolio, which means that their architecture underlies technology like the Sony PS5’s Sony DualSense wireless controller, released in November 2020. General Vibration has been granted more than 20 patents in the US, Asia and Europe, with more pending.
Award accepted by Rob Morris, chief scientist and co-inventor.
Houston Methodist Research Institute is a leading academic medical center that takes a multidisciplinary approach to changing the face of medicine. Doctors Cristini, Butner and Wang are a team of engineer scientists at the Houston Methodist Research Institute who use mathematical modeling to study biological problems, with a special focus on disease progression and treatment. They design and implement mathematical descriptions of the key biophysical phenomena within the tumor microenvironment. They are currently working to establish methods to use mathematical modeling to predict cancer-patient response to immune checkpoint inhibitor immunotherapy. Mathematica has played a key role in this process, allowing them to rapidly implement and update model versions, perform testing and optimization, and conduct extensive analysis on large sets of patient data.
Award accepted by Joseph D. Butner, Vittorio Cristini and Zhihui Wang.
Carol Johnstone is an internationally recognized senior accelerator physicist at Fermilab and Particle Accelerator Corporation. Her work was initially created to solve a simple set of approximate, thin lens optics equations simultaneously with geometric orbit equations. These constraint equations provided physical and field parameters that insured stable machine performance in novel accelerators for high energy physics research, such as the muon collider or Neutrino Factory. Her work evolved into a powerful new methodology for advanced accelerator design and optimization, which has since been applied to innovations in accelerators for radioisotope production, cancer therapy, security and cargo scanning, radiopharmaceuticals and green energy production. Johnstone’s efforts have resulted in the creation of a now-patented design for a non-scaling fixed-field gradient accelerator. Her work has also helped lead to the now-under-construction National Center for Particle Beam Therapy and Research in Texas, which will be the most advanced cancer therapy center in the US.
Jang-Hoon Lee is a professor of mathematics at Paju Girls’ High School and the most famous Mathematica user in South Korea. He has introduced Wolfram’s software to millions of users and extensively incorporates it into his teaching. This includes developing an online Mathematica textbook for his students, called Mathematica LAB. He also opened the Mathought website and creates math content using Mathematica for Naver, where he has 20 thousand subscribers and 6.5 million cumulative views. Due to this and other initiatives, he has won the Korea Mathematics Education Award from the Ministry of Education of South Korea and the Science Teacher of the Year Award from the Ministry of Science and Technology Information and Communication of South Korea.
Scot Martin is currently a Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering and has previously held positions as an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a NOAA Postdoctoral Fellow in Climate and Global Change at MIT. His research focuses on engineering solutions to the major environmental challenges presently facing the world. Martin’s laboratory works specifically on problems of air and water pollution and their effects on climate change. His current research has a focus on connections among plant emissions of volatile organic compounds, particle-phase secondary organic material and climate. Martin is currently working to complete a book on aerosol science and technology and is developing a HarvardX course on thermodynamics.
David J. M. Park Jr. develops applications in the Wolfram Language. In the past, he worked on technical computer programming and the engineering of cesium beam tubes used in atomic clocks in satellites. He has used Mathematica since Version 2 and developed and sold packages such as Tensorial for tensorial calculus and presentation software for producing custom graphics and presentations for earlier versions of Mathematica. He currently is coauthoring a Grassmann calculus application, which is in beta-testing development.
Edmund Robinson is an industrial mathematician and software developer who has made many noteworthy contributions in the fields of fund and risk management as well as reinsurance. His prominent work includes the creation of interactive visualizations to provide breakdowns and comparisons of funds on the fly; generation of highly formatted performance figures with financial measures and statistics; summary infographics and PDF export; and rapid modeling, simulation and analysis of bespoke contract structures with interactive data, model and parameter selection. Robinson has also given talks focusing on workflows that combine third-party geographic information system (GIS) datasets with contract loss distributions to produce a dynamic tool to estimate and visualize incurred but not reported (IBNR) claims related to a windstorm event and historical analysis of sunny-day flooding occurrences and forecasting with time series analysis.
Leonardo Roncetti created a data analysis and decision-making process for critical lifting operations of personnel on offshore platforms by crane to increase the safety of this extremely dangerous field. He is also known for creating a methodology that utilizes artificial intelligence to monitor cracks in concrete or steel structures in real time to prevent collapse and study damage over time. This methodology can be used in structures such as dams, bridges, nuclear power plants, buildings, hazardous-content storage tanks and many other large structures. Roncetti is an often-sought-after expert regarding structural failures and accidents of many types and has appeared and/or been interviewed about such across many media outlets.
Fernando Sandoya currently teaches at the postgraduate level and oversees research and development of new products in the context of a consulting business. Among his notable projects are the development and implementation of an intelligent assistant for optimal sequencing of production in the largest food manufacturer in Ecuador (PRONACA); the development and implementation of a system for the optimization of the reverse logistics of used tires across Ecuador (SEGINUS); the development of a descriptive and predictive analytical model for land transportation of containers to the ports of Guayaquil (Spurrier Group); and professional training programs in business intelligence, data science, machine learning and models for Ecuadorian universities. Sandoya is currently working to develop a machine learning system for Redclic and holds development contracts with an additional dozen companies.
Enrique Vílchez Quesada teaches courses in mathematics, operations research and programming fundamentals. His research is primarily associated with different activities and projects related to the development of computerized educational software and materials. He has served as coordinator of the systems engineering area and deputy director of the Computer Science School of the National University of Costa Rica. He has received several distinctions in Costa Rica for his outstanding performance and professional career in teaching and research. He is an associate member of the Latin American Committee for Educational Mathematics (CLAME) and the author of more than 50 scientific and dissemination articles in the areas of mathematics and educational informatics.
Virginia Tech’s Math Emporium was established over 20 years ago. Since then, nearly eight thousand students have been served through the Math Emporium each semester, in courses ranging from precalculus to geometry and mathematics of design. Many peer institutions have adopted the emporium model, which uses computer-based resources and emphasizes active learning and retention. Mathematica has served as the foundation for Virginia Tech’s Math Emporium. Quiz questions are created as modules, allowing for thousands of variations for a single “question.” An in-house package has been built and expanded over the years, housing thousands of functions, from formatting to building XML files, for use in the Math Emporium testing system. Additionally, Mathematica has been used to create portions of the Math Emporium’s online textbooks and to conduct assessments for the department of mathematics.
Award accepted by Jessica Schmale, senior mathematics instructor.
James C. Wyant was the founding dean of the College of Optical Sciences. He was also the founder of the WYKO Corporation. His company is known for having manufactured and sold phase-shifting interferometers for testing optics that were later used for measuring the shapes of the recording heads used in computer hard-disk drives. At one point, every major manufacturer of hard-disk drives globally purchased WYKO instruments to test the recording heads of their drives. He founded another company in 2002 known as 4D Technology. There, he developed single-shot phase-shifting interferometers that, unlike other interferometers, give accurate results in the presence of vibration and air turbulence, thus making them very useful in manufacturing environments.
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