Sylvia Boyd was an undergraduate and graduate student in Combinatorics and Optimization, completing her doctorate in 1986. Her thesis was on the Subtour Polytope of the Travelling Salesman Problem, supervised by Bill Pulleyblank. While at Waterloo, Sylvia was captain of the women's field hockey team. In 1986-87 she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Mathematics Department at Carleton University.
In 1987, Sylvia joined the Computer Science Department at the University of Ottawa as an assistant professor. She has remained at the University of Ottawa, and is currently professor in the School of Information Technology and Engineering.
Sylvia is an active researcher in combinatorial optimization. She is particularly interested in obtaining bounds on the optimal length of a tour in the famous Travelling Salesman Problem (TSP). There is a longstanding open question called the "four-thirds conjecture" about the TSP. It says that, under natural assumptions about the length function, there is a TSP tour having length at most 4/3 times the "subtour bound". The subtour bound is an efficiently computable lower bound on the optimal tour length, which was a main topic of Sylvia's thesis. Sylvia Boyd has continued to be at the forefront of work on this famous conjecture.
Sylvia is an outstanding teacher, and has received considerable recognition for it. In 2002 she was winner of the Faculty of Engineering J.V. Marsh Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 2003 she won the University of Ottawa Excellence in Education Prize. And in 2005 she was the recipient of the University of Ottawa Excellence in Teaching Award.
Sylvia is highly respected by her colleagues. She has made a number of service contributions, including serving several years as associate director of the School of Information Technology and Engineering.