Microsoft's Jennifer Tour Chayes to deliver the John von Neumann Lecture

The flagship lecture is the highest honor awarded by SIAM

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) is pleased to announce that Jennifer Tour Chayes of Microsoft is the 2015 John von Neumann Lecturer. 

The flagship lecture, the highest honor awarded by SIAM, was established in 1959 in honor of the Hungarian-American mathematician after whom the prize is named. The lecture is awarded for outstanding and distinguished contributions to the field of applied mathematical sciences and for the effective communication of these ideas to the community.

The 2015 John von Neumann Lecture is awarded to Dr. Chayes for her leadership in the research community, as well as her seminal contributions to the study of phase transitions in both mathematical physics and the theory of computing. As co-founder, Managing Director and Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research New England and Microsoft Research New York City, she has gone on to tackle network models and algorithms, algorithmic game theory, and computational biology; through her multiple leadership roles, she continues to inspire and innovate.

Chayes co-founded Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2008, and Microsoft Research New York City in 2012. Before joining Microsoft in 1997, she was for many years a professor of mathematics at University of California, Los Angeles. 

Chayes received her B.A. in biology and physics at Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. in mathematical physics from Princeton University. She did her postdoctoral work in the mathematics and physics departments at Harvard and Cornell.

"In many senses, winning this award represents recognition for my rather unconventional path, from biology to physics to computer science to social sciences and back to biomedical sciences, always inspired by the beauty and utility of the underlying mathematics," said Chayes. "Along the way, my work was unified by developing and applying the mathematics of networks, so I also see this as recognition of network science as a new branch of applied mathematics."

Chayes has twice been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. She is a Fellow of the AAAS, ACM, AMS, and the Fields Institute, and an Elected Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her research areas include phase transitions in discrete mathematics and computer science, structural and dynamical properties of self-engineered networks, graph algorithms, algorithmic game theory, and computational biology.

Chayes will receive her award, an honorarium of $5,000 and a framed, hand-calligraphed certificate, at the 8th International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM 2015) in Beijing, China in August. The SIAM Prizes & Awards Luncheon will be held Thursday, August 13 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the China National Convention Center.

Chayes will deliver the associated prize lecture "Once upon a graph: How to get from now to then in massive networks" on Wednesday, August 12, from 7:00 - 8:00 p.m. in Room 74 of the convention center. 

"My work in both mathematical physics and the theory of computing, as well as in applications to the social sciences and the biomedical sciences, has been driven by understanding the structure and behavior of random (often self-organized) networks, and the phase transitions that occur in such networks," Chayes explained. "Remarkably, the perspectives of phase transitions and network science have allowed us to develop and apply similar models, mathematical analyses, and algorithms to apparently widely divergent areas like computer networks and cancer genomics."