News & Events


New President of the French Academy of Sciences


Alumnus Sébastien Candel (PhD '72) has been elected as president of the French Academy of Sciences (Académie des sciences, Institut de France). The Academy, which was created in 1666, is committed to the advancement of science and advises government authorities on scientific issues.  Candel obtained his PhD in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics from Caltech and is a receipient of the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to aerospace. [Caltech story] [Candel's Marble Lecture]

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A Birder in the Hand: Mobile Phone App Can Recognize Birds From Photos


Pietro Perona, Allen E. Puckett Professor of Electrical Engineering, and colleagues have developed the Merlin Bird Photo ID mobile app which uses machine-learning technology to identify hundreds of North American bird species it "sees" in photos. "This app is the culmination of seven years of our students' hard work and is propelled by the tremendous progress that computer-vision and machine-learning scientists are making around the world," says Professor Perona. "A machine that recognizes objects in images, like humans do, was a distant dream when I was a graduate student and now it's finally happening." [Caltech story]

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Visualization Brings Data to Life


Students participating in Caltech's Data Visualization program aim to tackle cumbersome data-manipulation problem such as how to drive a rover on Mars from a command room on Earth. One of the goals of the program is to develop innovative software to streamline the ways in which scientists and engineers visually manipulate their data. "We use a human-centered design methodology," Professor Mushkin says. "Design students create sketches and ask the researchers to 'interact' with them by pointing, talking, shuffling, and annotating the paper, while computer science students create rough drafts of a variety of possible approaches to coding the visualization." [Caltech story]

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Practical Mathematics: An Interview with Andrew Stuart


Professor Andrew Stuart is interested in how the current era of data acquisition interacts with centuries of human intellectual development of mathematical models that describe the world around us. His research is informed by—and has applications for—diverse arenas such as weather prediction, carbon sequestration, personalized medicine, and crowd forecasting. [Interview with Prof. Stuart]

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Professor Chandrasekaran Wins INFORMS Optimization Society Prize


Venkat Chandrasekaran, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences and Electrical Engineering, is a winner of the 2016 INFORMS Optimization Society Prize for Young Researchers for his paper Relative Entropy Relaxations for Signomial Optimization. The prize is awarded for an outstanding paper in optimization and serves as a recognition of promising colleagues who are at the beginning of their academic or industrial career. [List of winners]

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Open Online Course on Quantum Cryptography


Thomas Vidick, Assistant Professor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences, is co-teaching a massive open online course (MOOC)—CS/Ph 120, Quantum Cryptography—focused on the ways in which quantum mechanics can be used to create secure lines of communication. "It's a hot topic, but there are very few resources for people wanting to go beyond just the basics. Very few schools will even have a quantum cryptography course," Vidick says. [Caltech story] [Vidick blog]

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Professor Pierce Elected Eastman Visiting Professor at Oxford


Niles A. Pierce, Professor of Applied & Computational Mathematics and Bioengineering, has been elected to the 74th Eastman Visiting Professorship at the University of Oxford. Professor Pierce is working to engineer molecular instruments capable of reading out and regulating the state of endogenous biological circuitry from within intact organisms. The Eastman Professorship is one of the world's most respected visiting professorships, bringing a distinguished American scholar to Oxford each year. It was established in 1929 from an endowment established by George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. The Eastman Professorship has previously been held by four Caltech professors: Linus Pauling (1948), George Beadle (1958-59), J.F. Bonner (1963-64), and Harry Gray (1997-98).

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Richard Murray Named to DOD Panel on Innovation


Richard M. Murray, Thomas E. and Doris Everhart Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems and Bioengineering, has been named to the Defense Innovation Advisory Board by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. Professor Murray joins 14 other scholars and innovators who will focus on new technologies and organizational behavior and culture. Secretary Carter has asked them to identify technology and practices from the private sector that could be used by the Department of Defense (DOD). [Caltech story]

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Improving Computer Graphics with Quantum Mechanics


The Schrödinger equation, the basic description of quantum mechanical behavior, can be used to describe the motion of superfluids—fluids, supercooled to temperatures near absolute zero, that behave as though they are without viscosity. Professor Peter Schröder and his colleagues realized that the same equation with some small modifications can also be used to describe vorticity dominated phenomena of fluids at the macroscopic level--from smoke gently rising from a flame to the concentrated vorticity of a twister. [Caltech story & video]

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