UK mathematician Nick Higham wins Fröhlich Prize

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

The London Mathematical Society anncouced this week that the Fröhlich Prize has been awarded to Professor Nicholas Higham FRS, of the School of Mathematics, University of Manchester, in recognition of his leading contributions to numerical linear algebra and numerical stability analysis.

The Fröhlich Prize is awarded in even numbered years in memory of Albrecht Fröhlich. The prize is awarded for original and extremely innovative work in any branch of mathematics. According to the regulations, the prize is awarded "to a mathematician who has fewer than 25 years (full time equivalent) of involvement in mathematics at post-doctoral level, allowing for breaks in continuity, or who in the opinion of the Fröhlich Prize Committee is at an equivalent stage in their career."

From early in his career in 1980 Higham became well-known in the numerical linear algebra community for his work on computing square roots of matrices and estimating matrix condition numbers. According to the citation for the award, his pattern of research is characterized by "identifying a fundamental computational problem; analysing the algorithms that have been proposed already for it; finding a key improvement that leads to a better algorithm, often surprising experts who thought the problem was already solved; proving theoretically that the new algorithm works; implementing it in software; and publishing a definitive paper on the subject that is a model of scholarship and clarity."

Higham has also made major contributions to other areas of numerical linear algebra, including component-wise perturbation theory, computation of the polar decomposition and the matrix sign decomposition, the practical aspects of fast matrix multiplication, the solution of matrix nearness problems, the stability of Cholesky factorization, theory and algorithms for generalized and polynomial eigenvalue problems, and the solution of Vandermonde systems. He has also contributed to of the theory and computation of functions of matrices, on which he has recently published a book entitled Functions of Matrices: Theory and Computation.

Higham was born in Salford, UK and grew up in Eccles, a suburb of Manchester. He is a graduate of the University of Manchester, having received his BA in 1982, MSc in 1983 and PhD in 1985. His PhD thesis was entitled Nearness Problems in Numerical Linear Algebra; his supervisor was George Hall.

Higham is Director of Research within the School of Mathematics, Director of the Manchester Institute for Mathematical Sciences (MIMS) and Head of the Numerical Analysis Group. He held a prestigious Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2003-2008) and is on the Institute for Scientific Information Highly Cited Researcher list.


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