Professor of Mathematics Awarded Prestigious Theory Prize

UCSD professor of mathematics Ruth Williams on Sunday was awarded the prestigious John von Neumann Theory Prize, given annually by the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences, for her pioneering research on the theory and applications of “stochastic networks and their diffusion approximations.”

Ruth J. Williams
Ruth J. Williams

Williams, who holds the Charles Lee Powell Endowed Chair in Mathematics, shared the award with Martin Reiman of Columbia University’s department of industrial engineering and operations research. Both researchers accepted their prize of $5,000, a medallion and a citation at an annual INFORMS meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Among other aspects, their distinguished research focuses on heavy traffic analysis, which examines how real-world systems function most efficiently while running near maximum capacity, such as when a website server becomes congested.

“Williams’ research is characterized by its mathematical depth and elegance,” INFORMS said in its citation of the prize. “She has greatly influenced researchers in operations research, stochastic process and mathematics, doing so through survey lectures and articles that are exemplary in clarity and insight.”

Receiving her Ph.D. from Stanford University, Williams joined UCSD as a faculty member in 1983, and, in 2012, was chosen to receive membership in the National Academy of Sciences.

This fall, Williams is teaching MATH 286: Stochastic Differential Equation. She will teach MGTF 413: Computational Finance Methods during Winter Quarter 2017.