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Stony Brook Mathematics Professor Receives International Recognition

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Robert D. Hough, PhD, Assistant Professor of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences at Stony Brook University, was awarded the David P. Robbins Prize by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

Hough
Robert D. Hough

Presented once every three years, the award recognizes the author of an outstanding paper in algebra, combinatorics, or discrete mathematics. Dr. Hough’s “Solution of the minimum modulus problem for covering systems,” was published in the Annals of Mathematics. Research for this problem was conducted during Dr. Hough’s tenure at the University of Cambridge.

According to the MAA, “Bob Hough stunned the field by showing that for any system of covering sequences, the minimum modulus must be at most 10^16. The proof involves a very clever application of the so-called Lovász Local Lemma, a power combinatorial tool for handling dependent probability in the case where the dependence is local, together with some insightful ideas from elementary number theory. While the proof is not simple, it is completely self-contained, only employing ideas and techniques accessible to undergraduates. Of course, people now believe that the bound of 10^16 can be lowered to something much smaller, perhaps as small as 100. This still leaves open the old problem as to whether there is an SCC with all the moduli odd. This beautiful paper will certainly stimulate further research on this topic.”

“This important recognition for Dr. Hough, one of newest members of the Mathematics Department, highlights his exemplary scholarship,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD. “Dr. Hough’s research at the University of Cambridge, and his work here at Stony Brook University, is inspirational for his students, fellow faculty members, and the University community. We are fortunate to have such a brilliant young mathematician on our faculty.”

“The receipt of the prestigious David P. Robbins Prize by Prof. Hough is indicative of the University’s strength in Mathematics, especially in differential and symplectic geometry, algebraic geometry, algebraic topology, dynamics, complex analysis, and their applications to mathematical physics,”said Michael A. Bernstein, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. “We are thrilled that we were able to have been able to recruit this esteemed young faculty member.”

Before joining Stony Brook University, Dr. Hough was a Postdoctoral Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. He also served as a visiting researcher at Stanford University and as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Born in Midland, MI, Dr. Hough holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Mathematics, a Master of Science in Computer Science, and a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, from Stanford.

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