Daubechies, sometimes referred to as the “godmother of the digital image,” is known for her pioneering work on the mathematics of image analysis. Her lecture, “Mathematicians Helping Art Historians and Art Conservators,” will explore how Daubechies has developed mathematical methods for image and data analysis that have a wide range of applications, including art history and conservation.

In recent years, mathematical algorithms have helped art historians and art conservators in a variety of ways, including putting together thousands of fragments of world-famous frescos by Mantegna, which were destroyed by WWII bombings; deciding that certain paintings by masters were “roll mates,” meaning their canvases were cut from the same bolt; virtually removing artifacts in preparation for a restoration campaign; and providing more insight into paintings hidden underneath visible ones. The presentation will review these applications and give a glimpse into the mathematical aspects that make them possible.

Daubechies earned her Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Although her degree is in (theoretical) physics, she thought she would become an engineer while growing up. Her mother was heartbroken when she opted for pure science instead, and predicted she would end up in the gutter, jobless. Fortunately, matters turned out better. Her academic work focuses on mathematical methods for the analysis of signals, images and data, with applications in many directions.

She enjoys working in collaboration with others – in her scientific work as well as otherwise. The latter includes, most recently, a collaborative mixed media art installation that celebrates the beauty, creativity and fun of mathematics.

Daubechies is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a two-time MacArthur Foundation Fellow, and has received many international awards and honors for her work. Her visit to USD is sponsored by the Lifto Amundson Endowment of Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and the College of Arts & Sciences.

The Lifto Amundson Lecture was established in 1988 by Marjorie Lifto Amundson and her son, Dr. Loren H. Amundson of Sioux Falls. Mrs. Amundson was a member of USD’s Alpha Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Amundson (USD School of Medicine, 1954; Distinguished Alumni Award, 2004) was also elected to membership in the chapter. The Lifto Amundson Lectureship has enabled distinguished speakers from the liberal arts disciplines to visit USD each year and share their research and perspectives with the community. For more information about the event, please contact the USD College of Arts and Sciences at 605-658-3830.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society is the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society. Its mission is to champion education in the liberal arts and sciences, to recognize academic excellence, and to foster freedom of thought and expression. Chartered in 1926, USD’s Alpha Chapter is the only chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at a college or university in South Dakota.

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