SFI Professor Cristopher Moore is among 50 mathematical scientists to be elected to the 2016 class of fellows of the American Mathematical Society, the AMS announced today. 

His recognition is for "contributions to randomized algorithms and quantum computing, bridging mathematics, statistical physics, and theoretical computer science." 

The AMS Fellows Program identifies mathematicians recognized by their peers for significant contributions to “the creation, exposition, advancement, communication, and utilization of mathematics.” Newly-elected fellows will be honored during a January 8 reception as part of the Joint 2016 Mathematics Meeting in Seattle.

Moore, who was named a fellow of the American Physical Society in 2014, has a long history with SFI. He became a postdoctoral researcher in 1992 and a research professor in 1998. He has been a member of the resident faculty since 2012.

He says we can’t understand complex systems without pushing forward the boundaries of mathematics. “Everyone in science uses math to analyze data or models of natural systems,” he says, “but actually proving things mathematically often forces you to understand things at a deeper level.” A good proof, he says, isn't just a formality. It often sheds new light on a system, not just confirming that something is true, but also “giving you a sense of why it must be true."

People often regard mathematics primarily as a tool to study other complex systems. “But mathematics can be a complex system in and of itself, not just as a model for other things, or just as a tool,” he says.

Moore is currently pursuing two major projects. One of those involves excavating the mathematical connections between statistical inference and statistical physics. The rigorous proofs at the heart of those connections “lead people into new mathematics in fields like probability theory and random matrices, and that's very exciting,” he says.

The other project, on which he's collaborating with SFI Omidyar Fellow Joshua Grochow, involves identifying how the symmetries inherent in complex problems can guide researchers in designing the best possible algorithms to explore those problems.

Moore says he's thrilled to be recognized by the AMS. On a personal level, he says, “it's very satisfying to be taken seriously as a mathematician.”

See the complete list of new AMS fellows