Memorandum to: The Faculty of Arts and Science Community

From: Thomas Carew, Dean for the Faculty of Arts & Science and
Gérard Ben Arous, Director of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences

Re: Announcement of Silver Professorships

It is our great pleasure to announce the next group of distinguished professors to be recipients of Silver Professorships.

The 2014-15 Silver Professorship honorees are as follows:



Patrick Cousot

Professor of Computer Science
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Science

Patrick received the Doctor Engineer degree in Computer Science (1974) and the Doctor ès Sciences degree in Mathematics (1978) from the University Joseph Fourier of Grenoble, France.  Before coming to NYU in 2008, he was Professor at the École Normale Supérieure, the École Polytechnique, and the University of Metz, France.

Professor Cousot is one of the top leaders worldwide in the formal mathematical methods, and is the inventor, with Radhia Cousot, of “abstract interpretation,” a fundamental, general, and unifying theory of sound abstraction and approximation of mathematical structures that has had a tremendous influence on the field.  Myriad aspects of modern life depend on complex software – much of which has many “bugs.”  Professor Cousot's work provides tools to analyze software to automatically establish or verify the absence of errors in the software.  In addition to his fundamental theoretical contributions in this area, Professor Cousot has made very important practical contributions, particularly, his demonstration of the absence of run-time errors in the primary flight control software of the Airbus A340.

Abstract interpretation was introduced in the seminal 1977 paper, “Abstract interpretation: a unified lattice model for static analysis of programs by construction or approximation of fixpoints.”  This paper now has over 4500 citations, making it one of the most highly cited papers in computer science generally and in formal methods in particular.  The ideas have proven to be remarkably versatile: many “new” techniques can be shown to be special cases of the general abstract interpretation framework.  More importantly, recasting ideas in this framework immediately provides a host of insights as the abstract interpretation framework is well-developed, theoretically rich, and has been shown effective in many practical contexts.  In November 2003, the static analyzer Astrée (a tool based on abstract interpretation and developed under the leadership of Patrick Cousot) achieved a landmark verification milestone by successfully and automatically proving the absence of run-time errors in the primary flight control software of the Airbus A340 fly-by-wire system, a program consisting of 132,000 lines of computer code.  The ability of abstract interpretation to scale where other techniques (such as model checking) do not has led to a surge in interest in and uses of the technique. Today, abstract interpretation is one of the three pillars of formal methods (along with model checking and theorem proving).

In recognition of his work, Cousot was awarded the Silver Medal of the CNRS (1999), a honorary doctorate from the Fakultät Mathematik und Informatik of the Universität des Saarlandes (2001), the Grand Prix of Computer Science and its Applications of the EADS Corporate Research Foundation attributed by the French Academy of Sciences (2006), a Humboldt Research Award (2008), the ACM SIGPLAN Programming Languages Achievement Award (2013), and most recently, with Radhia Cousot, the 2014 Harlan D. Mills Award (2014) of the IEEE Computer Society.



Professor Don Garrett

Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department
Faculty of Arts and Science

Professor Garrett came to NYU in 2003 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence. He has also taught at Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Utah.

Professor Garrett works primarily in early modern philosophy, with special interests in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics. He is the author of Cognition and Commitment in Hume’s Philosophy (1997) and Hume (forthcoming), and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Spinoza (1996).

Professor Garrett is an admired and highly effective teacher praised for his sparkling clarity in lecture and willingness to help students. His popular lecture course in the College Core invigorates students’ study of challenging texts that explore moral judgment and the sources humans look to for guidance in making choices about the best way to live. Students applaud the links he draws between Hebrew scripture, Greek drama, British novel, and Enlightenment philosophical texts. Appropriately for a philosopher, Professor Garrett is noted for his ability to model the construction of strong arguments, which improves students’ writing and argumentative skills.

He has served as co-editor of Hume Studies and as North American editor of Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009 and was Carnegie Centenary Professor at the University of Edinburgh in 2011.

Professor Garrett has won numerous fellowships and awards including: Carnegie Centenary Professor University of Edinburgh (May-August 2011); Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities Fellowship, University of Edinburgh (2011); Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (inducted 2009); Tanner Humanities Center Fellowship (1995-96); Faculty Fellow Award, University of Utah (1991); Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities Fellowship, University of Edinburgh (1984); Mrs. Giles R. Whiting Fellowship (1978–1979).



Terry Harrison

Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department
Faculty of Arts and Science

Terry also serves as Director of the Center for the Study of Human Origins. He joined New York University in 1984 after receiving his Bachelors of Science (1978) and his Doctor of Philosophy (1982) from the Anthropology Department at University College in London.

Professor Harrison is a biological anthropologist specializing in primate and human paleontology, evolutionary morphology, and paleoecology. He has extensive paleontological fieldwork experience in Europe, East Africa, and Asia, and he is currently co-directing a major field program with Dr. Amandus Kweka of the National Museum of Tanzania at the renowned early hominin site of Laetoli in northern Tanzania. The aims of the project are to recover additional remains of early hominins, and to learn more about their paleobiology, and paleoecology. Professor Harrison is also working on several collaborative projects on Miocene and Plio-Pleistocene primates from China.

As Director of the Center for the Study of Human Origins, Professor Harrison works to enhance and facilitate research on all fields of biological anthropology and archaeology that are broadly related to the study of human origins and evolution from a biological and cultural perspective. The aim is to foster and support multidisciplinary investigations, with an emphasis on the development of collaborative projects, international fieldwork, and state-of-the-art laboratory research. In addition to research, the Center also aims to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the study of human origins among the academic community and the public at large through conferences, workshops, educational programs, and outreach activities.

Among his many honors and awards, Professor Harrison has won the Golden Dozen Teaching Award (1989, 1996), the Distinguished Teaching Award (2002), and was elected a Fellow if the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006).



David J. Heeger

Professor of Psychology and Neural Science
Faculty of Arts and Science

Professor Heeger received his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. He was a postdoctoral fellow at MIT, a research scientist at the NASA-Ames Research Center, and was on the faculty of Stanford before coming to NYU in 2002.

Research in Professor Heeger’s computational neuroimaging laboratory spans an interdisciplinary cross-section of engineering, psychology, and neuroscience. The current focus of his research is to use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to quantitatively investigate the relationship between brain and behavior. The vast majority of neuroimaging experiments from other labs around the world have focused on which parts of the brain are involved in a particular cognitive or perceptual task. Although this has been an important first step, perception and cognition depend not only on which brain areas are active, but also on how neuronal activity within each of those areas varies over space and time. Professor Heeger is using fMRI to measure the timing and amplitude of brain activity, for testing computational theories of the neural processing underlying cognition and perception. He uses fMRI to study visual awareness, visual pattern detection/discrimination, visual motion perception, stereo depth perception, attention, working memory, the control of eye and hand movements, and neural processing of complex audio-visual and emotional experiences (movies, music, narrative).

In the fields of image processing, computer vision, and computer graphics, Professor Heeger has worked on motion estimation and image registration, wavelet image representations, anisotropic diffusion (edge-preserving noise reduction), image fidelity metrics (for evaluating image data compression algorithms), texture analysis/synthesis and scientific visualization. In the fields of perceptual psychology and systems/cognitive neuroscience, he has worked on computational models of neuronal processing in the visual system, psychophysical (perceptual psychology) measurements of human vision, and neuroimaging.

Professor Heeger was awarded the David Marr Prize in computer vision in 1987, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in Neuroscience in 1994, the Troland Award in psychology from the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, and the Margaret and Herman Sokol Faculty Award in the Sciences from New York University in 2006. He became an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013.



David W. McLaughlin

Professor of Mathematics and Neural Science
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Science
Provost, New York University

Dr. McLaughlin received a B.S from Creighton University, which honored him in 2010 with its Alumni Merit Award.  He received an M.S. from Indiana University, and a Ph.D. in Physics from Indiana University.  He also served as Director of the Courant Institute from 1994 to 2002. Since 2002, Professor McLaughlin is the Provost of New York University.  In this capacity, he serves as the chief academic officer of the University, who is responsible for setting the University's academic strategy and academic priorities, allocating financial resources in accordance with academic priorities, and overseeing the schools and all academic support units.

Professor McLaughlin is an applied mathematician, whose recent work in visual neural science focuses upon computational models of the primary visual cortex. He began his work in the area of integrable systems. Among his celebrated accomplishments was his 1973 paper, “The Soliton – A New Concept in Applied Sciences,” (with Al Scott and Frank Chu), which provided explicit formulae for solitons (self-reinforcing solitary waves) for essentially all the integrable systems known at the time. The article was recognized five years later by Citation Index as a “Citation Classic.” His 1978 research (also with Al Scott) on the “Perturbation analysis of fluxon dynamics” was one of the very first papers to use the full integrable structure (of the SineGordon equation in this case) to analyze a concrete physical problem.

From integrable systems, McLaughlin moved into the world of dynamical systems and in particular the theory of weakly nonlinear dispersive waves. His work focused on coherent structures and wave turbulence.  These dispersive waves occur in a variety of physical systems such as nonlinear optics, atmosphere and the ocean waves as well as plasmas.  McLaughlin’s research on nonlinear dispersive wave equations was from the point of view of infinite dimensional dynamical systems where he showed the existence of solitary waves, the generation and propagation of oscillations, the persistence of homoclinic orbits, the existence of temporally chaotic waves and dispersive turbulence and the propagation of spatiotemporal chaos.

More recently McLaughlin’s research has turned to the field of visual neuroscience and perception in which he has made remarkable contributions. He began a long collaboration with Robert Shapley on the dynamics of the visual cortex, and helped to design and analyze some of the first large-scale neuronal network models that instantiated realistic cortical circuitry and modeling of thalamic input. Dave has developed coarse-grained descriptions of functional networks, investigated the nature of long-range connectivity, and studied many aspects of fluctuations and noisiness in neuronal activity and he has applied these tools to help understand the neural basis of visual illusions.

A distinguished scholar in his field and the author of over 114 publications, McLaughlin is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.



Joanna Waley-Cohen

Professor of History
Faculty of Arts and Science
Dean, Arts and Science, NYU Shanghai

Professor Waley-Cohen received her B.A. (1974) and M.A. (1977) degrees in Chinese Studies from Cambridge University and her Ph.D. (1987) degree in History from Yale University. Her books include The Culture of War in China: Empire and the Military under the Qing Dynasty (2006); The Sextants of Beijing: Global Currents in Chinese History (1999); and Exile in Mid-Qing China: Banishment to Xinjiang, 1758-1820 (1991). As Dean, Professor Waley-Cohen is responsible for recruitment of faculty, curriculum oversight, and intellectual development of the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Profesor Waley-Cohen’s current scholarly projects include a study of daily life in China c.1800, and a history of culinary culture in early modern China. Her research interests include early modern Chinese history, especially Qing imperial culture and its ramifications; Chinese military culture; Chinese material culture; and the role of food in Chinese social and cultural life from 1500 to 1900. She works to test traditional assumptions about China against actual evidence and to locate China within global historical contexts.  She has taught Chinese history and civilization at NYU since 1992.

Professor Waley-Cohen has received many honors, including archival and postdoctoral fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies; Goddard and Presidential Fellowships from NYU; and an Olin Fellowship in Military and Strategic History from Yale.