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Indian American Nikhil Srivastava Receives American Mathematical Society’s Inaugural Ciprian Foias Prize

Indian American Nikhil Srivastava Receives American Mathematical Society’s Inaugural Ciprian Foias Prize

  • The associate professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley shares $5,000 the award with Adam Marcus and Daniel Spielman.

Nikhil Srivastava, associate professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley, is among three selected for the inaugural Ciprian Foias Prize in Operator Theory. The $5,000 award recognizes their “highly original work” in Operator Theory by the American Mathematical Society (AMS). Srivastava shares the award with Adam Marcus and Daniel Spielman. Marcus holds the Chair of Combinatorial Analysis at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland., while Spielman is the Sterling Professor of Computer Science at Yale. 

The award honors “their highly original work that introduced and developed methods for understanding the characteristic polynomial of matrices, namely the iterative sparsification method (also in collaboration with Batson) and the method of interlacing polynomials,” AMS says in a press release. “Together, these ideas provided a powerful toolkit with many applications, notably in the trio’s breakthrough paper “Interlacing families II: mixed characteristic polynomials and the Kadison–Singer problem” (Annals of Mathematics, 2015), which solves the famous “paving problem” in operator theory, formulated by Richard Kadison and Isadore Singer in 1959.”

They will receive the award on Jan. 5 at the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meeting in Seattle, Washington.

In a joint statement, the trio said they are “honored and delighted” to receive the award, and that they accept it “on behalf of the many people whose work contributed to the resolution of the Kadison–Singer problem. Our involvement was the final chapter of an amazing story we hope will inspire similar solutions of difficult problems in the future.”

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Earlier in January, Srivastava, Marcus and Spielman won the 2021 Michael and Sheila Held Prize for his research and innovation. They were recognized for their “breakthrough works on the Kadison-Singer problem and on Ramanujan graphs, and the underlying theory that leads to new connections between computer science, mathematics and physics,” according to a statement from the National Academy of Science (NAS).

Srivastava has previously shared the Pólya Prize, awarded by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics in July 2014 with Marcus and Spielman. He joined UC Berkeley in 2015, and served as an assistant professor until he was appointed to his current post last year, his LinkedIn profile says. Before that he worked as a researcher at Microsoft offices in Bangalore, India, before which he did postdoctoral research at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Princeton, New Jersey. He attended Union College in Schenectady, New York, graduating summa cum laude with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics and computer science in 2005. He received a Ph.D. in computer science from Yale University in 2010.

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