Yale Mathematician Ronald Coifman Appointed to Endowed Post

Ronald R. Coifman of North Haven, a mathematician who is noted for his work in data compression and restoration, has been named the Phillips Professor of Mathematics by vote of the Yale Corporation, Yale’s governing body.

Coifman, a professor in both the mathematics and computer science departments, has conducted pioneering research on wavelet packets, a mathematical shorthand for compressing and restoring images and sounds. Coifman holds a joint patent with Yale for the discovery of wavelet packets, which can be used to restore blurred images or poor-quality sounds by detecting and enhancing the underlying coherent structure.

Coifman’s wavelet packets have been used by the FBI and Scotland Yard to compress massive fingerprint files to a more manageable size for transmission over telephone lines. The new technology can also be used to convert long-playing record collections to compact discs, restore old photographs, produce clearer mammograms and ultrasound images, make oil exploration more efficient through the use of seismic waves, and speed the transmission of picture-phone images.

Coifman’s other research interests include nonlinear analysis, scattering theory, real and complex analysis and singular integrals. He has coauthored three books and has authored or coauthored more than 100 articles or papers.

A native of Tel Aviv, Israel, Coifman earned his Ph.D. from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, in 1965. Before joining the Yale faculty in 1980, he taught at the University of Chicago and Washington University. He chaired Yale’s math department 1986-89. He has been a visiting professor at Tel-Aviv University and the University of Chicago.

In May, Coifman was one of three faculty members at Yale elected as fellows of the National Academy of Sciences. His other honors include a 1996 State of Connecticut Medal of Science, which Governor John G. Rowland presented to Coifman for his contributions to the state’s scientific development.

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