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Annual Ostrom Lecture to discuss mathematics

PULLMAN – Robert E. O’Malley Jr., an authority on applied mathematics will deliver the annual Ostrom Lecture at Washington State University. The talk, entitled “On the mathematical development of singular perturbation concepts,” is slated for 7:30 p.m. April 4 in the Smith CUE building, room 202.

His talk will describe the history and some of the leading international personalities involved in the development of the concept of a fluid dynamical boundary layer and a corresponding singular perturbations theory.

O’Malley will also deliver a colloquium entitled “On boundary layer resonance.” at 4:10 p.m. in Neill Hall, room 5W.

A professor of applied mathematics at the University of Washington, O’Malley’s current research emphasizes the relationship between singular perturbation theory and various regularization methods for differential-algebraic systems, as well as other problems such as the motion of shock layers and other interfaces. He receives support for his work from the National Science Foundation.

After studying electrical engineering and mathematics at the University of New Hampshire where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, O’Malley earned his doctorate at Stanford University in 1966. He spent some years at New York University doing research on asymptotic methods and singular perturbations. He also spent a year at the University of Edinburgh, after which he used his lecture notes as the basis for a book, “Introduction to Singular Perturbations.” In 1973, he moved to the University of Arizona where he organized an interdisciplinary program in applied mathematics, and applied singular perturbation ideas in control theory. He moved to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1981. After a sabbatical at the Technical University of Vienna, where O’Malley studied asymptotic methods in semiconductor modeling, he moved to the University of Washington.

O’Malley has served as president and held other offices in SIAM, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He serves on advisory committees for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Electric Power Research Institute, and Argonne National Laboratory, and more generally as a spokesperson for applied mathematics.

The Theodore G. Ostrom Lecture Endowment brings an internationally renowned mathematics scholar to the Pullman campus each year for a series of presentations. The lecture honors Emeritus Professor Ostrom, who retired from WSU in 1981 after 21 years on the mathematics faculty.

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