August 2018

You could say that we had a couple of “unveilings” in July, both of which appeared in the local news. First, we unveiled the elliptical pool table in the Mathematics and Computing (MC) Comfy Lounge on July 10. We are proud to say that we have the third table ever made and the first to appear in North America. I enjoyed playing the very first game outside Europe with MathSoc President, Jason Shau Ji PNg.

The second unveiling was that of the generous gifts from Sam Pasupalak totalling $500,000 on July 11. Before Sam graduated he had already developed the algorithms that would drive his future company Maluuba. Though not an easy journey, Sam hustled his way to building a successful company which he sold to Microsoft in 2017. We thank Sam for his generosity which provides:

  • A scholarship for the Computational Rhetoric lab
  • A scholarship for the Robotics lab
  • Support for research by Christiane Di Marco in Computational Rhetoric
  • Velocity awards for Computer Science Capstone projects and a graduate student startup award
  • A scholarship with a focus on AI through Women in Computer Science
  • An AI Fellowship for Kate Larson
  • Support for the AI Lab renovation 

Additional media attention, included a piece in the Financial Post about Joseph Emerson’s Quantum Benchmark and its partnerships with Google and IBM. The Business Standard covered a study from Joel Dubin, Ian Waudby-Smith, Nam Tran, and Joon Lee which revealed that nursing notes can help indicate whether intensive care unit patients will survive. The researchers applied an open-source sentiment analysis algorithm to extract adjectives in the text to establish whether it is a positive, neutral or negative statement. A multiple logistic regression model was then fit to the data to show a relationship between the measured sentiment and 30-day mortality while controlling for gender, type of ICU, and simplified acute physiology score. 

Within the faculty, we have some news to share as well. We congratulate:

  • Ruodu Wang (Statistics and Actuarial Science) who received a $120,000 Discovery Accelerator Supplement from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) for a proposal titled “Model Uncertainty and Robustness in Risk Management”
  • The CEMC as the recipient of the Canadian Mathematics Society Adrien Pouliot award
  • Matthew Scott (Applied Mathematics) and Ross Willard (Pure Mathematics) who were both awarded The Faculty of Mathematics Award for Distinction in Teaching
  • Humeyra Kiyak, Jesse Legaspi, and Abdullah Sivas for achieving the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards in Applied Mathematics
  • Ian Goldberg (Cheriton School of Computer Science) and students received two awards for papers at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium, and an honourable mention for another with PhD candidate Nik Unger

We’re excited to announce that several new faculty members have started. The Department of Combinatorics and Optimization recently welcomed Douglas Stebila, and today welcomes David Gosset. Neither are strangers to the University of Waterloo. Douglas completed both a BMath (Combinatorics and Optimization and Computer Science) and a PhD (Combinatorics and Optimization) at Waterloo and David was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Quantum Computing. Other new faculty include Samuel Wong in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science and Olga Veskler, Yuri Boykov, and Shalev Ben-David joined the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science.

These first few days of August are rather busy around the Faculty of Mathematics. The Department of Applied Mathematics hosts a Fields Institute two-day workshop called the Frontiers of Applied Mathematics. The Department of Combinatorics and Optimization will hold their first 2018 Tutte Distinguished Lecture on August 3, The Geometry of Matroids, featuring Federico Ardila of San Francisco State University.

Thanks to those who provided feedback as on the Faculty of Mathematics draft strategy plan. There is another draft that we’d ask you to look on behalf of the Office of Research. They have requested feedback on the draft Tri-Agency Research Data Management Policy. The three federal research funding agencies (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), NSERC, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)) have developed a draft research data management policy outlining proposed institutional data management practices, and are asking institutions to review it and provide feedback. I encourage you to review the draft policy and provide comments by sending an email to SSHRC, NSERC, or CIHR by August 31, 2018. Once feedback is compiled, the agencies will develop a final policy that will be implemented incrementally. The policy aims to foster a culture of data management benefiting researchers across the country, and internationally. If you have questions, please contact Bruce Muirhead.

Finally, our thoughts are with the family of Grayce Murison Forristal who passed away on July 24. Grayce was a long-time staff member in the Faculty of Mathematics.

Stephen M. Watt
Dean, Faculty of Mathematics - University of Waterloo

Stephen Watt