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11/26/96

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Mathematician Keller wins Wolf Foundation Prize

Joseph Keller, professor emeritus of mathematics and mechanical engineering, will share the 1997 Wolf Foundation Prize for Mathematics. Keller, an applied mathematician of world renown, will share the $100,000 prize with Yakov Sinai of Russia.

Keller, 73, said the Wolf award's well-established international reputation is good news for Stanford, which is best known for its contributions to pure mathematics. "I hope it will reinforce the reputation of Stanford in applied mathematics," he said.

A Stanford professor since 1978, Keller also has taught at Princeton, Columbia, the University of California-Irvine, the California Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College and New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences. He is a former research associate at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts. Last April, Northwestern University awarded Keller a Frederic Esser Nemmers Prize in Mathematics. In 1988 President Reagan presented him with a National Medal of Science.

Keller originated the Geometrical Theory of Diffraction to solve problems of wave propagation. The theory quickly became an indispensable tool for engineers and scientists working on radar, the design of antennas and high frequency systems in complicated environments. He has conducted extensive research on national security issues including sonar, underwater explosions, atmospheric explosions of hydrogen bombs and A-bomb explosions on ships and submarines. Twice, Keller, who has written more than 400 scientific papers, received the Lester R. Ford Award for expository writing from the Mathematical Association of America.

The Wolf Foundation was founded in 1978 by Ricardo Wolf, a German-born Cuban diplomat and philanthropist, to support contributions to the sciences and the arts. The foundation has given prizes to 165 awardees from 18 countries. Keller and Sinai, a senior researcher with the Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics in Moscow and a mathematics professor at Princeton, will receive their awards from Israeli President Ezer Weizman at a ceremony in the Knesset on April 6, 1997.

Keller is the sixth Stanford faculty member to receive the Wolf Prize. The other recipients are Carl Djerassi, chemistry, 1978; Stanley Cohen, genetics and medicine, 1981; Martin Perl, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, 1982. Harden McConnell, chemistry, 1984; and Conyers Herring, applied physics, 1985.

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By Elaine Ray


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