Assessment of the success of scientific endeavors,
e.g., IMA workshops, is often
difficult and subjective, but it is important to make an
attempt to document connections between such efforts
and their results.
Below, we give a few examples of positive outcomes
of IMA activities, and we plan to elaborate on more
of these in future issues of Update.
Understanding the nonlinearity of hearing.
Jack Xin of the University of Texas and Yingyong Qi of Qualcomm, Inc.
were grappling with a fundamental issue in their work on computational
modeling the signal processing aspects of human hearing, namely how to
model the nonlinear way the auditory system responded to multiple tones
and the resulting masking effects. Their discussions with Li Deng of
Microsoft at the workshop suggested a new approach to coupling auditory
neural feedback to their mechanically based models and flowered into an
ongoing collaboration which recently led to a breakthrough in the
numerical modeling of multitone auditory responses. This work,
published in 2003, may lead to significant applications to voice
processing systems such as hearing aids and to audio compression
methods such as MP3.
Mathematical scientists mobilized for biodefense.
The Hot Topic workshop on Operational Modeling and
Biodefense: Problems, Techniques, and Opportunities had a significant
impact on engaging researchers and building collaborations in the
critical area of biodefense modeling. John Hotchkiss, a medical
doctor, became ``really fired up'' about mathematical modeling of
infectious processes, and has
initiated as a result. Moshe Kress, an operations researcher of the
Center for Military Analyses and Awi Federgruen, chair of Management
Sciences at Columbia, are completing a paper entitled
``Mass-Vaccination: Can it Be Done in Time? Completion Times in Queuing
Zipkin, of Duke's Fuqua School of Business, has
directed several students towards work suggested by Kress's
presentation at the workshop. Glenn Webb, a mathematician from
Vanderbilt, was very impressed by the presentation of Larry Wein, who
he met at the workshop, on the modeling of a large-scale airborne
anthrax attack, studied the work, and recently published a commentary
on it in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science which has
been picked up by the news media.
IMA biodefense workshop.
IMA postdoc Jing Wang's thesis research was in the area of progressive
lens design. As he continued his work at the IMA he made
breakthrough, devising a method by which a single custom lens surface
is all that is needed to accommodate prescribed astigmatism and
progressive correction. Because of the single surface design these
lenses can be produced inexpensively through milling, and so provide a
cheap way to lens customization. A patent for Wang's lens design
process is being filed by the University of Minnesota and discussions
with potential licensees are taking place.