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University of Basel

06 November 2019

Assaf Naor receives Ostrowski Prize in Higher Mathematics

Prof. Dr. Assaf Naor (Photo: © Simons Foundation)
Prof. Dr. Assaf Naor (Photo: © Simons Foundation)

The Czech-Israeli mathematician Assaf Naor has been awarded the international Ostrowski Prize in Higher Mathematics 2019. The Ostrowski Prize is worth 100,000 Swiss Francs and named after Alexander M. Ostrowski, a professor of mathematics who taught at the University of Basel.

Assaf Naor, a professor of mathematics at Princeton University (USA), receives the Ostrowski Prize 2019 in recognition of his pioneering achievements at the interface of the geometry of Banach spaces, the structure of metric spaces and algorithms.

Since the mid-1990s, geometric methods have played an influential role towards designing algorithms for computational problems that a priori have little connection to geometry. Assaf Naor is the world's leading researcher in this field, building a long-term cohesive research program. He has discovered and applied deep results from the theory of Banach spaces and quantitative metric geometry to solve long-standing algorithmic questions.

One particular focus of Assaf Naor's research is the optimal partition of graphs. A graph is a set of nodes together with a set of edges, which are paired connections between the nodes. In graph theory, a cut is a partition of the set of nodes of a graph. The determination of optimal cuts is an NP-complete problem. Therefore, a number of proposed heuristics exist to find an approximation of optimal cuts in a short time. Assaf Naor investigates polynomial-temporal approximation methods, which find the cut that divides a graph into two equally sized parts and thereby divides as few edges as possible (Sparsest Cut Problem).

Assaf Naor, born 1975, is a Czech-Israeli mathematician. He received his doctorate from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 2002, under the supervision of the Israeli mathematician Joram Lindenstrauss. After positions at Microsoft Research, the University of Washington and the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, he was appointed professor of mathematics at Princeton University in 2014.

Prize with link to Basel history

The Foundation A. M. Ostrowski for an international prize in higher mathematics was etablished by Alexander Markovich Ostrowski (1893-1986), a former professor of mathematics at the University of Basel. Since 1989, the foundation awards every other year a prize for outstanding achievements in the field of pure mathematics and in the foundations of numerical mathematics.

The jury consists of one representative of each of the following institutions: the University of Basel, the University of Jerusalem, the University of Waterloo (Canada), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters. The prize is awarded irrespective of politics, nationality, religion, or age.

The Ostrowski Prize is awarded for the 16th time this year. In 2017, it was conferred to the US mathematician Akshay Venkatesh. The award ceremony will take place at the University of Basel in the coming months.


Further information

Prof. Dr. Helmut Harbrecht, President of the Ostrowski Foundation, University of Basel, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, phone +41 61 207 39 92, email: helmut.harbrecht@unibas.ch

Further information
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