Elyot Grant

Elyot Grant completed his undergraduate degree in Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics in 2010, with a double major in Combinatorics and Optimization (C&O), and Computer Science. Elyot then joined the graduate program in C&O, and completed his MMath degree in 2011. His thesis focused on the development of efficient approximation algorithms for structured covering problems, supervised by Timothy Chan and Jochen Koenemann. Elyot is now a doctoral student in the Theory of Computing group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Elyot became involved with mathematics research during his undergraduate studies. He completed two undergraduate research assistantships (URAs), one in Computer Science (with Jeff Shallit), and one in C and O (with Jochen Koenemann). Both of these URAs were highly successful, and lead to publications in prestigious conferences and journals. For a student at his stage, this was of course remarkable, especially since the two URAs were on quite different topics: formal languages, and approximation algorithms. Talking about his work with Elyot, Shallit says: "first, he found a quadratic lower bound corresponding to a famous 1977 theorem . . . third, Elyot found beautiful results on 'open' and 'closed' languages, which are analogous to open and closed sets in topological spaces." Koenemann's comments echo those of Shallit: "Elyot is an extremely talented researcher whose intuition as well as depth and breadth of knowledge are simply astounding."

For his research work as an undergraduate, Elyot received the Outstanding Male Undergraduate Researcher prize of the Computing Research Association (CRA). He was the first student in the history of Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics to do so! The citation of the CRA describes Elyot's work as "clever & subtle", and adds that "his ideas have already been taken up by researchers in Europe, which shows that these ideas are important and in the mainstream of theoretical computer science". In 2011, Elyot was one 24 Canadian graduate students who were awarded the prestigious Julie Payette award.