Ronald Coifman appointed the Sterling Professor of Mathematics
Ronald Raphael Coifman, who has made fundamental contributions to pure mathematics, leading the field in adapting to the capabilities of the digital computer, and developing tools that have substantially benefited science and technology, hasbeen appointed the Sterling Professor of Mathematics, effective April 17.
The Sterling Professorship is awarded to a tenured faculty member considered one of the best in his or her field and is one of the university’s highest faculty honors.
He is a member of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, in the Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science.
Coifman, who has been teaching at Yale since 1980, has made monumental contributions in many different fields, particularly in harmonic analysis. His pioneering research includes breakthroughs in nonlinear Fourier analysis, wavelet theory, singular intervals, numerical analysis and scattering theory, real and complex analysis, as well as new mathematical tools for efficient computation and transcriptions of physical data, with applications to numerical analysis, feature extraction recognition and denoising.
He led the field of harmonic analysis by using geometric diffusions — graphs which represent data in Euclidean space — as tools to find structures in large data sets. Harmonic analysis enables researchers and professionals to extract the important features of graphs while ignoring unneeded noise. This field has significant medical applications, including analysis of blood pressure graphs and electroencephalograms, which are used to detect electrical activity in the brain. His work in this area is especially important now, given the rise of big data.
He has been named a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and was elected to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering. He is a recipient of the highest honors in his field, including the 1996 DARPA Sustained Excellence Award, the 1996 Connecticut Science Medal, the 1999 Pioneer Award of the International Society for Industrial and Applied Science, the 1999 National Medal of Science, the 2008 Wavelet Pioneer Award, the 2015 Big Data Award SPIE Defense, and the 2018 Rolf Schock Prize in Mathematics, awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
Coifman, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Geneva in 1965, is regarded as a scholar whose extensive work bridges the pure and applied aspects of mathematics. He is also a legendary mentor, guiding generations of graduate students and postdocs with his unique vision of mathematics and its applications. His advisees have gone on to prominent careers in academia and industry. He also pioneered and teaches an extremely popular course that introduces students at Yale from outside of science and mathematics to the structure and mathematics of networks, introduce a new generation of undergraduates to the study of mathematics.