MEDIA RELEASE — March 27, 2012

Canadian Mathematical Society

March 27, 2012


Gregory Smith to Receive 2012 CMS Coxeter-James Prize

OTTAWA, Ontario — The Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS) is pleased to announce that Dr. Gregory Smith (Queen’s University) is the recipient of the 2012 Coxeter-James Prize. The prize will be awarded in June at the Society’s Summer Meeting in Regina.

The Coxeter-James Prize was inaugurated in 1978 to recognize young mathematicians who have made outstanding contributions to mathematical research. The award is named for past CMS presidents Donald Coxeter, considered the world’s best known geometer, and Ralph Duncan James, an early supporter of the CMS who contributed greatly to mathematical development in Canada.

“Dr. Smith has made significant contributions to many different fields of mathematics and has demonstrated a strong sense for identifying problems in his area of research that are likely to be key for further progress,” said Lia Bronsard, Chair of the CMS Research Committee. “He is a valuable part of the Canadian mathematics community and a truly deserving recipient of this award.”

Dr. Smith’s research centers on “combinatorial varieties,” the fundamental objects at the interface between algebra, combinatorics and geometry. Combinatorial varieties account for a large number of the important geometric objects that arise in commutative algebra, representation theory, and mathematical physics, and their explicit nature makes them a good testing ground for general theories and conjectures, as well as computational experimentation.

This area of research is part of the field of Algebraic geometry, and has recently become important in its applications to quantum computing as well as in Computer Science, such as computation complexity. The field of Algebraic geometry has found applications in areas such as optimization theory, mathematical biology, coding theory and cryptography, image and signal processing, network structures, and algebraic statistics.

His research papers are often cited by other mathematicians and praised for their clarity and accessibility. “Dr. Smith has a particular gift for bringing complex problems into the realm of the comprehensible and computable,” said M. Ram Murty, head of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen’s University.

Dr. Smith is also noted for his many contributions to Macaulay2, a software system that supports research in algebraic geometry and commutative algebra. The research tools he has developed for the system are particularly valuable for collecting heuristic evidence, establishing patterns, and exploring pathologies, and they have found a broad range of users including physicists, combinatorialists, algebrists and geometers.

Dr. Gregory Smith received his BSc from Queen's University in 1995, his MA from Brandeis University in 1997, and his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 2001. He is presently an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Queen's University. He has held postdoctoral and visiting positions at Columbia University in New York, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley, the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, and the Mittag-Leffler Institute in Sweden. In 2007, he was the recipient of the André Aisenstadt Prize from the Centre de Recherches Mathématiques (CRM).

For more information, please contact:

Jessica St-James
Communications and Special Projects Officer
Canadian Mathematical Society
(613) 722-2662 ext. 728
or Lia Bronsard
Chair, CMS Research Committee
McMaster University
905-525-9140 ext. 23418

About the Canadian Mathematical Society (CMS)

The CMS is the national mathematics organization whose goal is to promote the advancement, discovery, learning, and application of mathematics. The Society's activities cover the whole spectrum of mathematics including: scientific meetings, research publications, and the promotion of excellence in mathematics education at all levels. The CMS annually sponsors mathematics awards and prizes that recognize outstanding mathematical achievements.