Cumran Vafa

September 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

vafaCumrun Vafa was born in Tehran, Iran in 1960 and graduated from Alborz Boys School. He came to the US in 1977 and completed  his undergraduate degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a major in physics and mathematics. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1985 under the supervision of Edward Witten. He then became a junior fellow at Harvard, where he later got a junior faculty position. In 1989 he was offered a senior faculty position, and he has been there ever since. Currently, he is the Donner Professor of Science at Harvard University.

Cumrun Vafa’s primary area of research is string theory. String theory, a subject that is about four decades old, is at the center of efforts by theoretical physicists to find a unified fundamental theory of nature. String theory provides a framework to unify everything we know about nature, including all particles and the forces between them, in a consistent quantum theory. This is an ambitious goal, given that it aims to describe physical phenomena involving scales 1025times smaller than the atom, as well as the cosmology of our entire universe, which involves a scale of about 1037times bigger than the atom. In a single theory, one studies the mysteries of confinement of quarks inside atomic nuclei, as well as enigmatic properties of astrophysical objects such as black holes.

Such an all-encompassing theory necessarily requires a tremendous amount of mathematical skill. In fact, most of the mathematics needed for string theory is not even yet developed. String theorists thus have the exciting task of building new mathematics as tools to explore new laws of physics. It is therefore not surprising that string theory is at the cross roads of many fields, including mathematics, particle phenomenology and astrophysics. Cumrun Vafa’s research has involved essentially all these aspects. Together with his colleagues he has worked on topological strings, trying to elucidate some new mathematics originating from string theory  and using these techniques to uncover some of the mysteries of black holes, particularly the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy. He has also applied these ideas to particle theories by geometrically engineering quantum field theories, as well as solving the strong coupling dynamics of confining theories  and geometrizing string theory defects.  His recent work involves applying these ideas to come up with stringy predictions about what the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) located at Franco – Swiss border may potentially discover in the near future.

Dr. Cumrun Vafa,  was elected as a new member of The National Academy of Sciences on April 28, 2009. Members are elected in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.

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20th Century Scientists and Thinkers: Lotfi Asker Zadeh

May 19, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Syed Aslam

LEGANERD_037679Lotfi Asker Zadeh was born in 1921, in Baku, a city on the Caspian Sea in the  Republic of Azerbaijan.  His father, Rahim Aliasker Zadeh was a correspondent for Iranian newspapers and also an importer-exporter. Zadeh and his parents moved to Tehran, Iran in 1931. After completing his high school diploma he chose University of Tehran and graduated  with Bachelor of Science degree in  electrical engineering.

During the year after his graduation, Zadeh worked with his father supplying construction materials to the US. Army in Iran. His contacts with Americans made him to emigrate to  United States .  In the year 1944, he enrolled at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  which awarded him an MA in electrical engineering . He entered the doctoral program at Columbia University and received his PhD in electrical engineering in the year  1949. Rising from instructor to professor of electrical engineering, he was on staff at Columbia for thirteen years, and finally  he moved on to the University of California at Berkeley where retired as a  chairman of the electrical engineering.

Lotfi Asker Zadeh, who described himself  as an American, mathematically oriented, electrical engineer of Iranian descent,  is responsible for the development of fuzzy logic and fuzzy set theory. He is also known for his research in system theory, information processing, artificial intelligence, expert systems, natural language understanding  and the theory of evidence. His fuzzy theory was enthusiastically received and applied in Japan, China, and several European countries.   Industrial applications have begun to appear in US. organizations as well. The most important application of the fuzzy theory which is developed by  AT&T is the  ‘Expert System’ on a chip.   Zadeh received the prestigious  award   to honor him for the  advancement of technology  from the Honda Foundation of Japan in the year1989. The same year Japan’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, along with almost fifty corporate sponsors, opened a laboratory for International Fuzzy Engineering Research  with a budget of approximately 40 million dollars.  Six months after its initiation, Zadeh became an advisor to  this laboratory. He is also credited,  for  pioneering the development of the z-transform method in discrete time signal processing and analysis. These methods are now standard in digital signal processing, digital control, and other discrete-time systems used in industry and research.

Zadeh’s research has earned him many honors and awards, including the Congress Award from the International Congress on Applied Systems, Research and Cybernetics (1980), the Outstanding Paper Award from the International Symposium on Multiple-valued Logic (1984), and the Berkeley Citation, from the University of California at Berkeley (1991).

Aslamsyed1@yahoo.com

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