Department of Applied Mathematics

Remembering Karl Menger

Remembering Menger header

The Department of Applied Mathematics at Illinois Tech will host Russel Caflisch, Director and Professor of Mathematics, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, as the 2020 Karl Menger Lecturer. He will speak on Friday, March 6, at 6 p.m. The event is part of the 13th annual Karl Menger Lecture and Awards, March 5–6, Illinois Institute of Technology Mies Campus.

Made possible with the generous support of the Menger family; Department of Applied Mathematics, Illinois Institute of Technology; and the Menger Fund.

Menger Lecture

Friday, March 6, 2020, 6 p.m. – Rettalliata Engineering Center (RE), Room 104 (Auditorium)
“From Differential Equations to Data Science and Back,” delivered by Professor Russel Caflisch, Director and Professor of Mathematics, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.


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Illinois Tech encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please call Faith Kancauski at 312.567.8980 in advance of your participation or visit.

Schedule of Events


Professor Caflisch will meet with students and faculty.

10 a.m. – Research Seminar, Pritzker Science Center (PS), Room 111

“Accelerated simulation methods for plasmas,” delivered by Professor Russel Caflisch.

3:15 p.m. – Career Advice Seminar, Pritzker Science Center, Room 129


Pre-lecture events will begin at 12:50 p.m.

12:50 p.m. – AWM/SIAM/AmStats Clubs Meeting, Rettaliata Engineering Center, Room 104
Professor Russel Caflisch will give the talk “Monte Carlo Methods,” hosted by the Association for Women in Mathematics, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and American Statistical Association clubs. All alumni are welcome. Light lunch provided.

1:50 p.m. – Faculty Research Overviews, Rettaliata Engineering Center, Room 104

3:15 p.m. – Math Trivia Bowl, Rettaliata Engineering Center, Room 104
This team trivia competition is for math enthusiasts of all experience levels.  Prizes awarded.  Having an advanced degree will not help you!

4:45 p.m. – Poster Session, Rettaliata Engineering Center, Atrium

6 p.m. – Lecture, Rettaliata Engineering Center, Room 104
“From Differential Equations to Data Science and Back,” delivered by Professor Russel Caflisch, Director and Professor of Mathematics, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

The arrival of massive amounts of data from imaging, sensors, computation and the internet brought with it significant challenges for data science. New methods for analysis and manipulation of big data have come from many scientific disciplines. The first focus of this presentation is the application of ideas from differential equations, such as variational principles and nonlinear diffusion, to image and data analysis. Examples include denoising, segmentation and inpainting for images. The second focus is the development of new ideas in information science, such as compressed sensing and machine learning. The subsequent application of these ideas to differential equations and numerical computation is the third focus of this talk. Examples include solutions with compact support and “compressed modes” for differential equations that come from variational principles, and applications of machine learning to differential equations and physics.

7 p.m. – Awards Presentation, Rettaliata Engineering Center, Room 104

Presentation of IIT Karl Menger Student Awards for exceptional scholarship by a student and recognition of Applied Mathematics poster exhibition participants.

7:15 p.m. – Reception and Alumni Networking, Rettaliata Engineering Center, Atrium


Complimentary parking is available in all visitor parking lots. Contact Faith Kancauski at 312.567.8980 or for details.

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Out-of-state travelers: for questions or hotel suggestions, please call 312.567.3132

About the Menger Lecturer

Russ Caflisch is an applied mathematician whose research is on analysis and numerical methods for physical sciences. He is known for analysis of the fluid dynamic limit in kinetic theory and of vortex sheets in incompressible flow, for mathematical modeling of epitaxial growth, and for development of Monte Carlo methods for kinetic theory and finance. He is currently director of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University and was director of the Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) at UCLA 2008-2017. Caflisch graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in mathematics in 1975, and received his PhD in mathematics in 1978 at the Courant Institute, NYU. He held faculty positions at Stanford University, NYU and UCLA, before returning to NYU in 2017. He was a recipient of a Hertz Graduate Fellowship and a Sloan Research Fellowship. He is a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, the American Mathematical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.