SIAM News Blog

Prize Spotlight: Peter Gangl

Peter Gangl (© Claudia Börner FOTOGRAFIE 2017)

Peter Gangl of Technische Universitaet Graz received the Richard C. DiPrima Prize on July 10, 2018 at the SIAM Annual Meeting held July 9-13, 2018 in Portland, Oregon.

The Richard C. DiPrima Prize is awarded to an early career scientist who has done outstanding research in applied mathematics (defined as those topics covered by SIAM journals) and who has completed their doctoral dissertation and all other requirements for their doctorate during the period running from three years to one year prior to the award date. Selection is based on the candidates’ dissertations. 

SIAM awarded the DiPrima Prize to Peter Gangl for his dissertation entitled “Sensitivity-Based Topology and Shape Optimization with Application to Electrical Machines,” which contains outstanding work in applied mathematics on problems of design optimization arising in electrical engineering.

Peter Gangl earned his BSc (2010), MSc (2012), and PhD (2017) from Johannes Kepler Universitaet Linz, where his supervisor was Ulrich Langer. His university studies included an exchange semester in Lund and research visits in Berlin and Avignon. After a postdoctoral position at RICAM Linz, he moved to Technische Universitaet Graz, where he is currently a University Assistant in the Institute for Applied Mathematics. He received honors for his doctoral dissertation from the Austrian Mathematical Society in 2017 and the European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry in 2018. In 2017, he was awarded the promotio sub auspiciis praesidentis, the highest possible honor for university studies in Austria, by Alexander Van der Bellen, the Federal President of Austria.

Q: Why are you excited to be winning the Richard C. DiPrima Prize?

A: SIAM is one of the most important mathematical organizations worldwide, so it is a big honor for me to receive their prestigious biennial dissertation award, in particular given the wide range of mathematical fields covered in the scope of SIAM. I did not at all expect the award, and it is really motivating to see my work getting recognized to such an extent.

Q: Could you tell us a bit about the research that won you the prize?

A: My PhD project was motivated by a collaboration with the electrical engineering department of the University of Linz. The ultimate goal was to derive efficient design optimization strategies for electrical machines. For that purpose, I considered two different kinds of design sensitivity information. On the one hand, there was the topological derivative, i.e., the sensitivity of a domain-dependent functional with respect to the introduction of a small hole. On the other hand, I considered the shape derivative, i.e., the sensitivity of the functional with respect to smooth variations of a boundary or material interface. Together with collaborators, I derived both sensitivities for the two-dimensional nonlinear magnetostatic setting, which is the most widely used model in the simulation of electrical machines, and applied them in numerical optimization algorithms. Here, the nonlinearity of the constraining PDE made the whole business particularly delicate. Moreover, I considered a way to deal with evolving material interfaces in the underlying finite element model. Finally, I combined all of the ingredients and applied the overall design optimization algorithm to two realistic model problems.

Peter Gangl receives the Richard C. DiPrima Prize from SIAM President Nick Higham at the 2018 SIAM Annual Meeting.

Q: What does your research mean to the public?

A: A large share of worldwide electrical energy consumption is caused by electrical machines. Thus, large energy savings can be made by using optimized machines. The optimization techniques I developed, can assist electrical engineers to find the best possible solution for the concrete application at hand. Using numerical optimization methods, it is often possible to find new designs for electrical machines which perform optimally with respect to certain criteria and maybe could not have been imagined beforehand using only engineering intuition.

Q: What does participation in SIAM mean to you?

A: The organization of SIAM together with all of their journals and the meetings they organize are extremely valuable for the scientific community in applied mathematics. Personally, I was lucky enough to participate in the Gene Golub SIAM Summer School in Linz in 2014, which was very well organized and a very interesting experience for me. Besides SIAM journals and conferences, I highly appreciate their public awareness program and all of their initiatives to communicate the beauty and usefulness of mathematics to a wider audience. A SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing paper I co-authored with four colleagues was featured as a SIAM Research Nugget in 2015, which was an honor for us as well.

Learn more about the Richard C. DiPrima Prize.

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