- The Indian American professor at Berkeley shares the 2021 Michael and Sheila Held award with Adam Marcus of the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Daniel Alan Spielman of Yale University.
Nikhil Srivastava, associate professor of mathematics at University of California, Berkeley has won the 2021 Michael and Sheila Held Prize for his research and innovation. Srivastava shares the award with Adam Marcus of the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Daniel Alan Spielman of Yale University. The trio has been 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). The prize consists of a medal and $100,000.
NAS says that in the process of solving the problems, Srivastava, Marcus and Spielman “uncovered a deep new connection between linear algebra, geometry of polynomials, and graph theory that has inspired the next generation of theoretical computer scientists.” It says “their solution to the Kadison-Singer problem, first posited in 1959, has been hailed as one of the most important developments in mathematics of the past decade. Their proofs provided new tools to address numerous other problems, which have been embraced by other computer scientists seeking to apply the geometry of polynomials to solve discrete optimization problems.”
Established in 2017, the Michael and Sheila Held Prize is presented annually and “honors outstanding, innovative, creative, and influential research in the areas of combinatorial and discrete optimization, or related parts of computer science, such as the design and analysis of algorithms and complexity theory,” the NAS website says.
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. Prior to that he worked as a researcher at Microsoft offices in Bangalore, India, before which he did postdoctoral research at 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 PhD in computer science from Yale University in 2010.