PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — It was an evening to celebrate for Brown University’s Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics (ICERM).
University leaders were joined by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse; Henry Warshall, deputy director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Mathematical Sciences; and ICERM board members to toast a $17.5-million grant renewal from the NSF. The grant will enable ICERM to continue and expand its mission to explore the interplay between mathematics and computation, bringing new techniques and approaches to bear on critical societal challenges from climate change to cybersecurity.
The institute launched in 2010 with a $15.5-million grant from NSF. The renewal is an affirmation of the institute’s work during its first five years and assures more mathematical exploration in the five years to come.
The institute supports semester-long research programs, week-long workshops, and lectures by prominent scholars. ICERM is also home to a rotating group of visiting scholars in residence and postdoctoral researchers, creating a vibrant, year-round scholarly community at the institute’s headquarters, 121 South Main Street in Providence.
Before toasting ICERM's next five years, speakers at the celebration talked about the importance of mathematical research and ICERM’s unique and critical contribution to that enterprise.
Jill Pipher, professor of mathematics and founding director of ICERM
“ICERM exists because math changes the world. Seventy-five years ago, G.H. Hardy, a brilliant mathematician, contended that his field, number theory, was the most beautiful because it was the purest. It had no connections to the outside world. Just 40 years after he wrote this, the field of number theory gave us a new paradigm in encryption. Unknown at that time, it later made our internet age imaginable, our digital financial transactions possible, and our communications secure.
“[F]undamental research in the mathematical sciences produces unexpected benefits. The research that is pursued, simply because it pushes the frontiers of mathematical truth farther, often pays dividends years and decades later in solving real-world problems. ICERM supports the cutting-edge programs whose future dividends are unpredictable but potentially game-changing.”
Brown President Christina Paxson
“I think what ICERM has done in its first five years is extraordinary. I expect it will continue to be extraordinary. I want to extend my gratitude to ICERM’s Founding Director Jill Pipher for her enterprising leadership and her vision for expanding the reach of its programs even farther.”
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse
“We’re extremely proud of Brown University around Rhode Island for the marvelous resource that Brown is to the state. And within Brown, to have this marvelous resource, ICERM, re-granted so that it can continue to operate here is another signal achievement.”
Henry Warchall, deputy director, NSF Division of Mathematical Sciences
“It’s well recognized that problems in other areas not only benefit from the application of mathematical thinking, but often give rise to new mathematical problems which then further stimulate the progress of science. [Mathematics] institutes advance research in that way, by making connections with other disciplines. They also play a leading role in training the next generation of researchers. Sincere congratulations to ICERM from the Division of Mathematical Sciences. We look forward to many more years of high impact research coming from the ICERM program.”
Provost Richard Locke
“Today is also very much about partnerships, and the power of partnerships to affect meaningful change. ICERM is an extraordinary example of the countless benefits that can be reaped by joining together the federal government, the academy and private sector partners to advance knowledge and deepen our understanding of the world around us.
“So, please join me in raising your glass to toast Jill Pipher, the entire ICERM community — and the power of collaboration to unleash innovation, solve mysteries, and transform the world.”