Belgian professor receives prestigious mathematics award


Ingrid Daubechies, a Belgian professor of mathematics and electrical and computer engineering has won the prestigious Wolf Prize in Mathematics.

Daubechies was born in Houthalen-Helchteren (Limburg) to a criminologist and a civil mining engineer. She obtained a doctorate in quantum mechanics from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB). A career at multiple top-range universities like Rutgers, and Princeton ensued, and she has been at Duke University since 2011.

Her list of awards and honours is impressive, and it should come as no surprise that she is the James B. Duke professor in her department, a tremendous and rare honour for Duke staff with particularly noteworthy achievements.

Let it be noted that she is the first woman ever to be awarded the Wolf Prize, in recognition of her work in wavelet theory and applied harmonic analysis. She is also the third Belgian after Jacques Tits (1993) and Pierre Deligne (2008) to win the prize since its beginning in 1978.

Her knowledge has influenced the world far beyond theory, whether it’s the sharp images you see when you’re watching your favourite football team on TV, or whether it’s distinguishing true Van Goghs from forgeries.

In winning the coveted Wolf Prize, she joins an impressive list including Stephen Hawking, Marc Chagall, Frank Gehry and, yes, Paul McCartney. Who’s the rock star now?