Research Highlights

Inverse Problems and Invisibility

MSRI - April 2011

In inverse problems one probes an object with a particular type of field and measures the response. From these measurements one aims to determine the object’s properties or geometrical structure. Typically, the interaction is restricted to a bounded domain with boundary: a part of the human body, the solid earth, the atmosphere, an airplane, etc. Experiments can be carried out on the boundary,...

Smoothing Surfaces with Corners

IMA - August 2010

While visiting the IMA in early 2001, Tom Duchamp of University of Washington, a geometer who works in computer graphics, attended a talk by postdoc Selim Esedoglu on image denoising. He wondered if the denoising method that Esedoglu described, which preserves image edges, could be modified to smooth surfaces that have edges and corners. The two started worked on this problem at the IMA but...

It’s All in the Symmetries

IAS - August 2010

Analytic and Geometric Number Theory The tools used in modern number theory range over many fields from algebra and algebraic geometry to harmonic analysis, representation theory, ergodic theory and combinatorics. Central to the study of many problems concerning prime numbers, diophantine equations and number fields, are sieve methods, L-functions (and with these the theory of automorphic...

Flipping a Switch

MBI - February 2010

Fighting TB Might be a Matter of ‘Flipping a Switch’ in Immune Response In the lung, alternatively activated macrophages (AAM) form the first line of defense against microbial infection. Due to the non-inflammatory nature of AAM, the lung can be considered as an immunosuppressive organ for respiratory pathogens. However, as infection progresses in the lung, another population of macrophages,...

Next Generation Auto Safety Systems

IMA - August 2009

Imagine you are driving at night on a twisty mountain road. A deer jumps out of nowhere ahead of you. You turn your car to avoid it, and all four wheels of your car hit an icy patch. You instinctively slam on the brakes. Without a computer-controlled safety system this would most likely lead to a serious accident. Instead, the safety system kicks in. It reads the direction and speed of your...

The Geometry of PDEs

IAS - August 2009

In the twentieth century, many of the advances in the theory of patial differential equations were the result of studying specific geometric problems; for example, minimal surfaces. The program in Geometric Partial Differential Equations demonstrated that this interaction between geometry and PDE continues to flourish and to illuminate the connections between seemingly unrelated problems....

Algebraic Geometry, Space-time, and Boxes

MSRI - June 2009

How can piles of boxes help us understand the structure of space-time? Algebraic geometry—the subject of MSRI’s Spring 2009 scientific program—provides the link, through the notions of moduli spaces and Donaldson-Thomas invariants. String theory predicts that space-time is 10-dimensional: Four of the dimensions are the usual three of space and one of time, and the remaining six are curled up...

Bregman Iteration and Applications to Imaging and Sparse Representation

IPAM - January 2009

A breakthrough in the sparse representation of data was made in the Fall of 2004 by David Donoho and by Emmanuel Candes and Terence Tao, in part at IPAM’s Multiscale Geometry and Analysis program. Their important results reduce a computationally difficult problem to an easily stated, convex minimization problem (the basis pursuit problem): $$ \min |u|_1 \ \ \text{such that} \ \ Au = f.$$ In...

Modeling Placental Growth and Structure

IPAM - January 2009

Early life influences adult diseases. Such serious public health priorities as diabetes, heart disease, breast and prostate cancer, osteoporosis, and depression have all been related by recent medical studies to the development of the fetus. Environmental influences, such as maternal diseases, can cause irreversible metabolic consequences for the fetus, altering susceptibility to later adverse...

Voronoi Diagram of Ellipses

IMA - August 2008

Innumerable scientific and engineering applications from geology to telecommunications lead to the same problem: given a set of objects, find which object is nearest to any particular point. The Voronoi diagram answers this question for every point on the plane by dividing the plane into cells containing the points nearest each object. Because this question arises in so many applications,...