SIAM News Blog

Margaret H. Wright Becomes 5th Woman to Receive SIAM’s Prestigious John von Neumann Prize

Wright will deliver this flagship lecture at the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) in July.

Margaret H. Wright, Silver Professor of Computer Science and Mathematics in the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, is the 2019 recipient of The John von Neumann Prize, the highest honor and flagship lecture of Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM), in recognition of her pioneering contributions to the numerical solution of optimization problems and to the exposition of the subject. Wright will deliver The John von Neumann Prize Lecture, “A Hungarian Feast of Applied Mathematics,” at ICIAM in Valencia, Spain, on July 16, 2019.

Wright, who holds a B.S. in mathematics and a M.S. and Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University, is the fifth woman to receive the prestigious prize, which is awarded annually by SIAM to recognize outstanding and distinguished contributions to the field of applied mathematical sciences and the effective communication of these ideas to the community. In choosing Wright for this year’s award, the selection committee noted, “Her research has deeply impacted the theory and practice of optimization. Through her many leadership roles, she has inspired and encouraged countless others.” Wright’s 1981 book Practical Optimization (with Philip E. Gill and Walter Murray) is one of the most influential books on the subject.

The John von Neumann Prize is the latest in a long list of Wright’s accomplishments, which includes being elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Sciences; being named a Fellow of SIAM, the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS); and serving as SIAM’s first woman President (1995-96).

The John von Neumann Lecture was established in 1959 to honor von Neumann, a Hungarian-American mathematician, physicist, and computer scientist, whose seminal work helped lead to the founding of modern computing. Wright’s lecture playfully compares von Neumann’s work, which was (and remains) deeply influential in an amazingly wide range of areas in mathematics and computer science, to Hungarian cuisine, highlighting a necessarily small selection of areas in which von Neumann took a non-trivial interest, illustrating modern ramifications in each case.

Learn more about SIAM’s John von Neumann Prize.


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