KYOTO, Japan—Algorithm pioneer Laszlo Lovasz, whose mathematical methods have enabled myriad breakthroughs in information technology—from RSA encryption to 4G channel capacity—has received the Kyoto Prize, a $550,000 award that some believe rivals the Nobel Prize in international stature.
Awards were also bestowed on Japanese physician Shinya Yamanaka for his seminal discovery that skin-cells can be substituted for those obtained from embryos, and South African artist William Kentridge for his invention of the now widespread animation technology called "drawings in motion."
Lovasz—a Hungarian-born mathematician—has solved several long-standing information technology (IT) problems using graph theory. He is credited with using graph theory to extend the point-to-point IT of Claude Shannon—the first recipient of the Kyoto Prize in 1985—for the tower-hopping era of modern cellular radio communications. Lovasz has served as a senior scientist at Microsoft Research, but is currently a professor at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, where he is using graph theory to pioneer a new approach to the management of very large networks.
"Graph theory represents a different approach to optimization problems that uses geometry to compute results instead of differential equations," said Lovasz. "It turns out that very large networks in many different fields can be described by graphs, from cyptography to physical systems. The ellipsoid method, for instance, is particularly well suited for solving modern problems in circuit theory and networking."
Laszlo Lovasz receives the Kyoto Prize, which includes $550,000 cash plus recognition for technological achievement on par with Nobel Prize.
One of Lovasz's most far-reaching mathematical discoveries was how to use graph theory to place an upper bound on an information channel's "Shannon capacity,"called its "Lovasz number." Lovasz also solved the "weak perfect graph conjecture"—a long-standing problem in graph theory—by utilizing a unique new paradigm that expresses discrete values by systems of linear inequalities.
Lovasz is perhaps most well known for the breakthrough principles called the "Lovasz local lemma" and the "LLL-algorithm," which are widely used today in cryptography as well for the multiple-input and multiple-output wireless communications scheme used by WiFi, 4G, WiMAX and LTE.
U.S. President Barack Obama did not attend the Kyoto Prize ceremony, but did send a prepared statement: "I am especially pleased to congratulate Dr. Laszlo Lovasz on receiving the Kyoto Prize this year. Americans like him have contributed to myriad advancements in mathematical sciences and other fields of study. These efforts help advance all humankind and create a brighter future for all nations."
The Kyoto Prize was founded by Kyocera chairman Kazuo Inamori in 1984 and began bestowing prizes in 1985—the year that Claude Shannon received the first prize. It is now administrated by the independent nonprofit Inamori Foundation with assets of over $900 million.
Dr. Lovasz is a naturalized U.S. citizen, turning in his green card for full citizenship during his tenure at Microsoft (1999 to 2006). He is living in Hungary now, but he told me today that next year he will return to the U.S. to research very large networks at Princeton University. My experience in Japan this week confirms that he is highly respected here--his work cited as enabling both mobile phone and wireless sensor networks to be more easily analyzed and designed. In particular, his mathematical techniques allow bounds to be determined for both maximum capacity of large networks (even when the nodes are moving, such as when mobile-phone users roam) as well as the minimum necessary spacing of nodes, such as cell phone towers. For the future, he plans to further elucidate very large networks by specifying exactly how to accurately simulate them with smaller-sized versions that can easily be modeled on PCs, rather than requiring supercomputer-caliber models as is the case today. The 62 year old Kyoto Prize laureate told me today that he plans to actively pursue his research interest for at least another decade before retiring--so stay tuned!
Among many, many achievements, Lovasz solved an open problem on Shannon capacity in the field of information theory, which advanced the development of wireless networks. Interestingly, a 1989 Kyoto Prize laureate, Dr. Amos Edward Joel, made an earlier contribution to wireless. Joel may be best known for U.S. Patent No. 3,663,762, filed in 1972, that outlines an early method for a wireless device user to maintain an uninterrupted connection while moving from one "cell" to another (i.e., "cellular" phone). Kudos to Johnson and EETimes for calling attention to giants like Shannon, Joel and Lovasz, who have truly changed our world, while other news sites seem fixated on Miley Cyrus.
Disney invented stop motion drawing which became the animation industry. Kentridge used to call his technique "stone age filmmaking." He did not invent stop motion drawing--he simply substitute charcoal for easier erasure with a trace than the usual pencil before digitization. For more on the last decade of Kentridge's work, see books by Jennifer Arlene Stone (paperbacks on Amazon) on THE APP on javari http://javari.com New York NY
Indeed, Kentridge is remarkably innovative, pioneering the most artistic application of stop motion animations of which I am aware. Because he takes an original image and alters it, turning frame 1 into frame 2 by erasing and redrawing a small part, by the end of the process only his film has a complete record of his art. Also if you pay attention to the themes he portrays, a understanding of his deep empathy for the human condition emerges, putting him on par with other great commentators on South Africa.
I had the fortune of being at a presentation of the Kyoto prize Laureate. It was really interesting to here the words from man that have excell in their activities. The work of these inspire and invite one to excell too and achieve.
The words from Mr. Obama are simple but quite true. It is a great thing to be able to contribute to the benefit of man-kind by the improvement of things and the discovery of new solutions to old problems. That is creation of wealth. Cell phone use is becoming more and more widespread. Will the day come when the network carriers aren't able to provide a good service anymore? Will they say someday, "sorry we don't have capacity left, please wait in the line?" The work from Mr. Lovasz is needed exactly for being able to answer such kind of questions.
Congrats to Mr. Lovasz... now... what is graph theory? :-)
The LLL is one of the most imprtant three algorithms of last century. Th eother two are FFT and ellipsoid algorithm.
The LLL has many aplpications. In addition to irs application in wireless and network, it broke and buried Knapsack public key.
You really have no clue here about the aesthetic or critical theory issues, let alone the reality of South African politics. Corny humanism and ignorance of the history of film are no substitute for ethical judgement.
This clearly is not your field of expertise.
Thank you for your constructive criticism. Having spent some time with Kentridge recently, I am surprised to find he has critics. Personally, he exudes competence, empathy, even wisdom. He never claimed to me to have invented stop-motion animations or anything else, but merely to have expressed his artistry with them. However, since my judgement was influenced by my personal experience of him, I defer to your superior ethical judgement.