Dean's Message - February 2019

The Bruce White Atrium of Math 3 was a hub of activity on Friday, January 25. Students, faculty and staff from across the university campus dropped in to observe or contribute to the building of the omnitruncated dodecaplex. Many of these volunteers stayed alongside Benoit Charbonneau and his graduate students until midnight to assemble this projection of a 4-D polytope of 28,800 edges. The build was on the front page of Saturday’s Waterloo Region Record.

A number of our researchers made the news in January. Notably, the research of Shai Ben-David (Cheriton School of Computer Science) and his colleagues was featured as a front-page news and views article on Nature’s website, as well as mentioned in ScienceDaily and several other news aggregation sites. Their work, Learnability can be undecidable, was published on January 7, 2019 in the inaugural volume of Nature Machine Intelligence. Also out of the Cheriton School of Computer Science, the work of Erinn Atwater, a PhD candidate supervised by Ian Goldberg, was covered by several security-based news sites, specifically in New Zealand and Australia. Their Shatter Secrets app distributes encryption keys in a way that requires the cooperation of several parties to decrypt information.

Our students, faculty and alumni continue to strive to be the best in their various fields around the world. We are looking forward to honouring our many award and scholarship winners at the 32nd annual Mathematics Awards Ceremony and Dinner on February 7. The continued excellence of our students and the careers that they tackle upon leaving the university, builds the reputation of the Faculty of Mathematics.

In addition to the awards that will be announced at the ceremony, we would like to add the following noteworthy award winners:

  • The University of Waterloo awarded Peter Nelson and Luke Postle (Combinatorics and Optimization) an International Research Partnership Grant for their project Sparse structures in graphs and matroids with University of Bordeaux professors Marthe Bonamy and Frantisek Kardos.
  • Two third-year students from the Cheriton School of Computer Science, Ahmed Sabie and Farbod Yadegarian, placed first and second respectively, in the coding portion of the fourth annual Code/Design to Win finals. The two students both finished the six hard problems with a perfect score of 600 in less than half of the average time (4.5 hours), with Sabie completing just ahead of Yadegarian.
  • Cam Stewart (Pure Mathematics) received an Award of Excellence in Graduate Supervision for 2018-2019.
  • The Centre de Recherches Mathématiques (CRM) named Andu Nica (Pure Mathematics) a Simons CRM Professor.

Congratulations to all!

We look forward to announcing the winners of the Waterloo-local ACM-style Programming Contest which occurs on February 9. The following month, we will announce the winners of the faculty’s 3MT heat. Please encourage our graduate students to sign up for the 3MT Math Faculty Heat right away.

The university’s Research Ethics team has asked us to remind our researchers that they are offering drop-in sessions throughout the winter term to answer questions related to the ethics process, including submitting, renewing, and amending an application. Drop in with your questions and laptop on the available dates.

Finally, we are saddened to share the news of the passing of two who were close to us, former Combinatorics and Optimization faculty member Ronald Read and Don Cowan’s wife Margaret. Our thoughts are with their family and friends.

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

Stephen M. Watt