Two professors are among eight recipients of the National Medal of Science announced June 10 by the White House and the National Science Foundation.
The National Medal of Science, established by Congress in 1959, honors the impact of individuals on the present state of knowledge in physical, biological, mathematical, engineering or social and behavioral sciences. Since it was first awarded in 1962, 20 Berkeley faculty have received the medal.
Stephen Smale, professor emeritus of mathematics, currently at the City University of Hong Kong, was honored for work in pure and applied mathematics leading to discoveries in topology, mathematical economics and the mathematics of computer computation. He also has made contributions in dynamical systems, geometry and operations research. He joined the mathematics faculty in 1960 and retired as professor emeritus of mathematics in 1994.
Smale's early work was in topology--the geometry of objects and surfaces in many dimensions. One of his first successes was the demonstration it is possible to turn a sphere inside out without breaking or sharply creasing it. In 1959 he startled the world of topology by solving the Generalized Poincaré Conjecture in dimensions greater than four. This theorem, which opened up areas of research previously untouchable, led to his winning the Fields Medal in 1966.
Richard Karp,University Professor emeritus of computer science, retired two years ago and currently is on the faculty of the University of Washington. He was honored for work linking theoretical computer science to real-world problems. He is a winner of the highest award in computer science, the Turing Award.
In 1972 Karp gained international notice for demonstrating that a large class of challenging computational problems, arising from many different sources, are in fact disguised versions of a single underlying problem. In recent years he has become interested in algorithmic problems related to unlocking secrets of the human genome. At the University of Washington, he is working on deciphering the human genetic code.
He joined computer science in 1968.
Barbara Briscoe, manager/administrative assistant at the Center for Studies in Higher Education, received the Distinguished Service Award in May. The award honors those who have been outstanding in their assignments, going beyond responsibilities of their appointments.
Center Director Sheldon Rothblatt calls Briscoe "a virtual dynamo" who has reshaped administrative procedures and guidelines, redesigned daily operations and has taken on financial responsibilities previously nonexistent. The success of a recent series of mission and organizational changes at the center was greatly attributable to her skill and vigilance, Rothblatt said.