Centre de recherches mathématiques, Annual Report 1996-1997

Awards, Distinctions & Landmarks

Michel Delfour and Francois Lalonde elected to the Royal Society of Canada

Michel Delfour, a long-time member of the CRM, was again a recipient of a notable national distinction, being elected to the Academy of Sciences of the Royal Society of Canada this year, after being awarded the Prix Urgel Archambault by ACFAS last year.

After completing the Honours Degree in Electrical Engineering and winning among other distinctions the Ernest Brown Gold Medal for highest ability throughout the undergraduate course at McGill University, Michel Delfour joined the Systems Research Center of the Case Institute of Technology where he obtained his Ph.D. in Mathematics in the joint program in Mathematical Systems Theory and Control. Attracted by the newly created CRM at the Université de Montréal, he first came as a visiting research scientist in 1970 and became Professor in the Department of Mathematics in 1983.

His research activities cover a wide range of topics in Engineering, Modeling, Computing and Mathematics. His current areas of interest include the control and design of shapes and structures. Much of his work in these areas was developed in the course of an extensive collaboration to the Canadian Space Program, with numerous applications in the design of satellites of communication. His most recent contributions are in the area of thin shells made of composite or smart materials with applications to the control of structural vibrations and the shape optimal design of all-purpose electrical vehicles. His research also covers the areas of modelling and control by delay equations and numerical methods in impulsive differential equations.

He has had a long term association with Industry Canada for the evaluation and planning of land mobile communication systems in large Canadian urban areas where there is a strong and growing demand for new services and spectrum resources. Over the years he has maintained consulting activities with a number of organizations such as Hydro-Québec, Spar Aerospace, Novacorp Consulting and the Department of National Defense.

In the course of his career, Michel Delfour has received several important awards and distinctions: as well as the Prix Urgel Archambault, he was awarded a Killam fellowship in 1989-1991. He has an extensive record of service to the mathematical community, both with federal and provincial granting agencies and with the Canadian Mathematical Society, of which he was the President from 1992 to 1994. During his years at the CRM, his students and post- doctoral fellows have found positions in the university system and more recently in the industrial sector.

Francois Lalonde was also elected this year to the Royal Society of Canada. Professor Lalonde completed a Bachelor's degree in Physics in 1976 at the Université de Montréal, which was followed by a Master's degree in Complexity Theory and a Ph.D. in Mathematics, also at the Université de Montréal. He then went on to do further work at the Université de Paris-Orsay, which awarded him a Doctorat d'État in 1985. Returning to Montréal, he took up an NSERC University Research Fellowship at UQAM, and became a member of the CRM's Bureau de Direction in 1988. He has served on its Advisory Committee since 1995.

Professor Lalonde's work centres on the rapidly emerging area of symplectic topology, whose main focus is the classification and structure of symplectic manifolds. This classification is rendered difficult by the fact that there are no local invariants for symplectic structures analogous to curvature, and the approaches to this classification have only been developed in recent years. Prof. Lalonde combines in his work a remarkable mastery of techniques of isotopy from differential topology, the analysis of elliptic pde through the use of pseudo-holomorphic curves and the Seiberg-Witten equations, as well as physical intuition. He has several important breakthroughs to his credit, in particular some of the first results applicable to all symplectic manifolds: an extensive study of the energy functional, symplectic capacity, and the geometry of the space of Hamiltonian diffeomorphisms, as well as a classification of ruled symplectic surfaces.

He is also heavily involved at the moment in the mathematical community, as director of the Institut des Sciences Mathématiques (ISM), as overall chair of NSERC's mathematics Grant Selection Committees, and as a member of the scientific advisory panels of both the CRM and the Fields Institute.

David Sankoff Doubly Honoured

David Sankoff, a regular member of the CRM since 1969, was doubly honoured this past year. He was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and was renewed as a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, through the year 2002.

Dr. Sankoff received his B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. from McGill University, writing his thesis under the direction of Professor Donald Dawson. He has been at the CRM since then and currently holds the position of "chercheur titulaire" as well as that of professeur in the Département de mathématiques et de statistique of the Université de Montréal.

Dr. Sankoff has made major contributions to the fields of linguistics and computational biology. In particular he has done pioneering work in the areas of sequence comparison, genome classification, and problems of efficiency and complexity related to phylogenic analysis. In linguistics he has dealt with problems of linguistic variation, discourse analysis, and lexicortatic theory. He has been a principal researcher in a major study of the spoken French of Montréal.

He is the editor of the journal Language, Variation and Change published by Cambridge University Press and is on the editorial boards of four other important journals in the fields of biology and linguistics.

In addition to the honors mentioned previously Dr. Sankoff received the Prix Vincent of the Association canadienne-française pour l'avancement des sciences in 1977. He has also been rewarded with invitations to address important meetings, various visiting positions, and membership on grant-selection committees in Canada, France, and the United States.

A Sixtieth Birthday Symposium for Jirí Patera and Pavel Winternitz

A Symposium was held this past year to celebrate the sixtieth birthdays of two of the CRM's outstanding resident researchers, Jirí Patera and Pavel Wintenitz. Both Jirí and Pavel have been at the CRM for a long time; Jirí since its inception, and Pavel since 1972, moving here mostly at Jirí's behest. Together, they helped establish the CRM as a leader in Mathematical Physics, collaborating on a number of topics such as the theory and applications of two variable expansions of scattering amplitudes, the connections between symmetries of partial differential equations and separation of variables, and the classification with Hans Zassenhaus of the subgroups of physically important groups and of the maximal Abelian subalgebras of complex and real simple Lie algebras. Their work has diverged somewhat in recent years, with Pavel concentrating his efforts on Lie symmetries of differential equations and difference equations, and links to the Painlevé property and integrability, while Ji í works on problems in Lie theory such as elements of finite order in groups, the relationship between grading and contractions, cells of root lattices, quasicrystals and aperiodic order. The two have had an enormous number of students and collaborators over the years, many of whom were at the symposium and contributed to its resounding scientific success.

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