Daniel Szyld's wide-ranging work earns AMS and SIAM recogniton

Temple University professor Daniel Szyld

Daniel Szyld, professor in the Department of Mathematics, has been elected to the 2017 Class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and to the 2017 Class of Fellows of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM). The honors recognize his contributions to numerical and applied linear algebra and his exemplary research and service to the community. 

“I am so honored to be both an AMS and SIAM fellow,” says Szyld, who served as SIAM’s vice president at-large for two years and is currently the editor-in-chief of its Journal on Matrix Analysis and Applications. “It means my work is in a category where it is recognized by colleagues as important and influential.”

Szyld’s research, which has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, utilizes computational linear algebra and applied linear algebra to explore a variety of complex systems arising in biology, physics or engineering. 

“Much of my work involves pre-conditioning, which is a way to convert difficult problems or questions into easier, more manageable ones,” says Szyld, who came to Temple in 1990 from Duke University. “One of the challenges we recently solved is how to use more than one preconditioning at the same time.”

Szyld’s work with his colleague, Professor Isaac Klapper, has examined the metabolism of bacteria in microbial communities, for example, on ponds in Yellowstone National Park. Another of his research projects is computing the gravitational potential of the Yucatan’s Chicxulub crater area, thought to have been formed by the impact of the meteorite responsible for the demise of the dinosaurs. With a grant from Temple’s Office of Vice Provost for Research, Szyld is working with Tonia Hsieh, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, to study lizard locomotion across complex, natural surfaces. “We are using a metal rod, cornstarch and water to mimic how a lizard’s leg hits the ground at a particular angle; we do experiments and mathematical analysis,” Szyld says.

Exploring complex problems in science and engineering, explains Szyld, means utilizing powerful computers working together to analyze hundreds of millions of unknowns. “The next generation of computers will be working at the exascale level, that is they will be perhaps 10,000 times more powerful than today’s machines, or capable of more than a billion billion calculations per second,” Szyld says. “My research, with the help of colleagues, post-docs and students, looks at how to utilize asynchronous methods so there is no need to wait for communications between thousands of processors. Fast isn’t fast if you have to wait for the data to arrive before you start.” 

Szyld is Temple University’s first SIAM Fellow. Along with Professors Shiferaw Berhanu, Irina Mitrea and Igor Rivin, Szyld is the fourth Temple mathematics professor to become an AMS fellow in the past three years. 

-Greg Fornia