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USC Center for Applied Mathematical Sciences Turns 20

Susan Friedlander Looks Ahead to a New Year by the Numbers

Susan Friedlander, professor of mathematics, is the director of the USC Center for Applied Mathematical Sciences (CAMS). Photo credit Laurie Moore.
Susan Friedlander, professor of mathematics, is the director of the USC Center for Applied Mathematical Sciences (CAMS). Photo credit Laurie Moore.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the USC Center for Applied Mathematical Sciences (CAMS), a research unit housed in USC College's Department of Mathematics. Susan Friedlander, professor of mathematics and CAMS' fourth director, has planned a week of celebratory activities beginning on September 20.

“CAMS was created as a resource for both the math department as well as the entire university,” Friedlander said. “Each semester we host a colloquium series of interesting talks and workshops that attract students from the College, the Viterbi School of Engineering and other areas of USC.”

CAMS, according to Friedlander, is intended to be interactive, interesting and useful across the university. Charles Fefferman, the Herbert Jones University Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University and the recipient of a prestigious Fields Medal, will deliver the CAMS Distinguished Lecture this fall.

At both Princeton, where Friedlander received her Ph.D., and at MIT, where she spent two years as an awardee of the Kennedy Memorial Scholarship, she became interested in her life’s work: fluid dynamics and partial differential equations.

“Fluid dynamics is an extremely broad subject, as most of our world is fluid including 90 percent of our bodies,” Friedlander said. “Fluid dynamics is just one area of mathematics used today to solve complex problems, which are not only addressed by mathematicians, but by numerical analysts, experimentalists and observational people.”

In addition to fluid dynamics, CAMS extends to computational science and engineering; control theory; discrete mathematics; mathematical biology; mathematical finance; probability and statistics; and theoretical computer science.

Computational science and engineering as well as mathematical biology are among the newer math applications. “Biological problems that came to the forefront in the last 30 to 40 years and computational science that includes finance and game theory are a major focus of study today,” Friedlander said.

A prolific publisher of mathematical papers, Friedlander is the editor of the quarterly Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), which is aimed at a broad audience of mathematicians and boasts the largest impact factor of all math journals.


The July 2010 cover of Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, featuring a rhombi-cuboctahedron. The drawing is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, one of 61 such drawings published in De divina proportone by Luca da Pacioli in 1509.

“My pet projects are the covers of the Bulletin, which are tied historically to one of the articles in each of the issues,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander is a member of the editorial board for the Notices, another AMS publication that focuses on the current happenings in the mathematical world. Serving as the associate secretary of AMS, she coordinated conferences worldwide, with the latest being a joint meeting at University of California, Berkeley with Sociedad Matemática Mexicana.

“Math is more vibrant than ever and continues to play an increasingly important role in medicine and science,” Friedlander said.

Friedlander joined USC along with her husband Eric, the Dean’s Professor of Mathematics, in 2007.

Partners of CAMS include IPAM at UCLA, MRSI at UC Berkeley, and MBI at Ohio State, among others.

Read more about the 20th Anniversary Celebration of CAMS on September 24. For information about CAMS, visit