The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) awarded a Rubicon grant to Jop Briët, researcher at the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI) in Amsterdam. He receives the grant for his research project ‘Simultaneous progress in coding theory, quantum entanglement, optimization and tensors’. The Rubicon program aims to encourage talented researchers and offers them the opportunity to gain experience at a top research institute outside of the Netherlands.
Briët's project is based on fruitful connections between various areas of mathematics, computer science and physics. Part of his research will be focused on coding theory, a part of information theory that deals with storage and transmission of data which is vulnerable to errors. Think for example of a scratched DVD or a noisy radio signal. Briët will study the trade-off between the storage-space needed by codes that protect data against such errors, and the accessibility of the
data after it has been encoded.
Motivation for this problem comes from the fact that standard codes as used for DVDs are very space-efficient, but require a disproportionate amount of time to decode small chunks of data. To recover even a single bookpage from an encoded library, the entire library must first be decoded. Briët's approach is based on novel links to celebrated work of Alexander Grothendieck, one of last century's most influential mathematicians. In line with his previous research he will also study quantum mechanics as the underlying model of the design of codes.
Briët will perform his research at New York University's Courant Institute for Mathematical Sciences, which is internationally recognized for its development of applied mathematics, analysis, and computer science. For his thesis `Grothendieck inequalities, nonlocal games and optimization’ Briët was recently awarded the 2011 Stieltjes Prize, the prize for the best thesis in mathematics.