Mathematics at Vanderbilt scores citations

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Research by Vanderbilt mathematicians is getting increased recognition via one of the top industry standards – how often its published papers are cited in major mathematics journals.

According to a recent analysis by Essential Science Indicators, Vanderbilt now ranks in the top 1 percent in terms of citations in the journals. The number of citations a paper receives is generally considered an indication of its quality and importance.

By this measure Vanderbilt ranks 150th in the world out of a total of 15,800 institutions that were surveyed.

According to chair Dietmar Bisch, the rising stature of mathematics at Vanderbilt is due to the significant growth in the size and quality of the math department over the last 15 years. During this period, it has grown to 50 full-time faculty from 30 in the 1991-92 academic year. Many of the recent appointments have been at a senior level, adding two distinguished professors and four named chairs. External research grants have grown fivefold over the last 10 years.

As part of its growth, the mathematicians have broadened their activities by creating three new research groups in areas that are rich with applications: biomathematics, noncommutative geometry and constructive approximation theory.

The biomathematics group is working with researchers in biological sciences and the School of Medicine to develop novel mathematical approaches to solve biological and medical problems.

Noncommutative geometry is geometry raised to a level that has important applications in theoretical physics.

Constructive approximation is a blend of several different branches of mathematics (including linear algebra and numerical analysis) devoted to discovering methods of computing approximate solutions to complex mathematical equations that otherwise defy exact solutions. The approach is finding use in a wide range of applications, including computer graphics and animation, testing aircraft radar and explaining natural patterns.

Media contact: David F. Salisbury, (615) 322-NEWS

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