Skip to content

Ronald DeVore Receives Promotion to Distinguished Professor

[Ronald DeVore Photo]

Dr. Ronald DeVore is being nominated as a candidate for promotion to the rank of Distinguished Professor in recognition of his seminal contributions to the field of Approximation Theory. In a nutshell, approximation theory is the study of how to approximate complicated phenomena, such as sound signals or visual images, using simpler mathematical building blocks, such as polynomials, trigonometric functions, and wavelets. The applications of this field are numerous and far-reaching. Much of today's technology, such as for communications and the storing of digital data, requires computers to digitize information in a way that allows for its efficient storage and transmission. The typical approach is to express the data in terms of a set of mathematical building blocks, chosen to reflect the qualities of the signals of interest, and then store or transmit the significant components identified for this description. The key questions in this process include the following: 1) which set of mathematical building blocks should be used for a given application; 2) how to efficiently perform the deconstruction in terms of these building blocks (via a computer); 3) reconstruct the signal from stored or transmitted information created by this process; and 4) analyze how much information is lost by this process. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. DeVore has made fundamental contributions to all of these areas.

The impact of Dr. DeVore's work is evident from within the reports from his distinguished letter-writers and from his long list of prizes and professional accomplishments. The letter-writers comment about his many accomplishments that touch many subdisciplines of applied mathematics. However, they consistently highlight Dr. DeVore's seminal contributions to the field of non-linear approximation theory. As an example, Dr. DeVore has been cited for his work on determining the optimal placement of nodes to minimize loss of information in the use of multi-variable splines. Earlier work on splines had typically used a regular grid of nodes which was not adapted to the problem at hand. The optimal placement of nodes is an extremely difficult, non-linear problem, and Dr. DeVore's work in this arena set the stage for many adaptive algorithms with far reaching applications in signal analysis and the numerical solution of partial differential equations, among others.

In addition to the evidence of his letter-writers, Dr. DeVore has a long list of accomplishments, prizes and accolades. Dr. DeVore is an elected member of the Bulgarian Academy of Science and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received an Alexander von Humboldt Research Prize. He has given numerous plenary addresses at international meetings. The most notable of these is his invited plenary addresses given at the International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in 2006 and two plenary addresses to the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics (1992, 2000). The ICM address is a clear indication of being well within the top 5% since only a handful of mathematicians are chosen for this honor (from tens of thousands worldwide) and the ICM occurs only once every four years. In addition, Dr. DeVore has nearly 140 refereed journal publications, 3 books, and 8 expository articles. His work is cited by thousands of researchers in mathematics and engineering. His research is supported by numerous federal granting agencies at well over 1 million per year.

By any meaure, Dr. Ronald DeVore's reputation is second to none. His contributions to the basic science of approximation theory as well as to numerous practical applications have been field-changing. It is for these reasons, we believe that Dr. DeVore is an outstanding candidate for the rank of Distinguished Professor.