Stanford University professor David Donoho won the 2018 Gauss prize in recognition of remarkable mathematical contributions that have generated important applications beyond the mathematical field. The winner was announced this morning at the opening ceremony of ICM 2018 by the International Mathematical Union (IMU) President Shigefumi Mori.


David Donoho was commended by the IMU President for his “fundamental contribution to mathematics” during the opening ceremony of ICM 2018 this morning in Riocentro, Rio de Janeiro.


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Speaking after the award was announced, Professor Donoho spoke of the joy he has experienced when theories he has developed earlier in his career are applied into everyday life. “There are things I’ve done decades ago, and when I see things happen in the real world – it makes me so proud. The power we have in moving the world gives me a great deal of satisfaction in my career choice.”


He said that a career in math is not limited to pure math, and publication in journals. “There are so many relations between math and the rest of the world. We see more and more relations over time; so much in the modern world is underpinned by math,” he said, citing the example of smartphones, and the vast level of mathematic fundamentals intertwined, such as prime factorization.


Professor Donoho was born in California, USA, in 1957, and dedicates his professional life to the study of statistics, information theory and applied mathematics. He has made fundamental contributions to theoretical and computational statistics throughout his career, as well as to signal processing and harmonic analysis.   His algorithms have made significant contributions to the understanding of the maximum entropy principle, the structure of robust procedures, and sparse data description.


David Donoho currently teaches at Stanford University, having previously taught at Berkeley University, and he holds a summa cum laude degree from Princeton University, as well as a PhD in statistics from Harvard University.   He has worked in various industries, ranging oil exploitation, information technology, and quantitative finances.   He has previously been awarded the MacArthur Fellowship (1991), the COPSS Presidents’ Award (1994), the Norbert Wienner (2010), and the Shaw Prize (2013).


The Gauss prize is jointly granted by IMU and the German Mathematical Association, and has been awarded at every ICM encounter since 2006, and is a tribute to the German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss (1777-1855). Professor Gauss made important contributions to number theory, statistics, mathematical analysis, differential geometry, geophysics, astronomy and optics.