Sophie Huiberts wins Gijs de Leve Prize

Sophie Huiberts won the Gijs de Leve Prize 2020-2023 for the best PhD thesis in Mathematics of Operations Research in that period. She is the first woman to get this prize.

Publication date
19 Feb 2024

Sophie Huiberts, former PhD student of CWI, won the Gijs de Leve Prize 2020-2023, which is awarded every three years for the best PhD thesis in Mathematics of Operations Research during that period. It is awarded by LNMB, the Dutch national network for operations research. Sophie Huiberts is the first woman to get this prize. In her PhD research she gained new mathematical insights on popular optimization methods. Huiberts: “These have many applications: from planning baseball tournaments to managing flight plans, from factory processes to collecting garbage”.

Impressive research

Floske Spieksma said in the laudation of the jury: “The committee is enormously impressed that Sophie managed to make breakthrough progress on so-called smooth analysis of the simplex method (…). It shows scientific courage to tackle such a notorious problem at such a young age (…). She improved her master results in her thesis, thereby beating various recent bounds from the literature proved by eminent scientists”. Apart from other scientific results the jury also mentioned that “Sophie has a very transparant and attractive writing style”.

Sophie Huiberts added: “I feel honoured to receive this prize. The previous winners are some of the biggest names in Dutch operations research.” On her website she writes: “To me the best part about being a scientist is the fact that I am sometimes the first person who finds the solution to a particular problem, the first person ever to know a particular fact”.

Sophie Huiberts receiving the Gijs de Leve Prize in 2024 from Floske Spiekstra. Picture: LNMB.
Sophie Huiberts receiving the Gijs de Leve Prize in 2024, with a laudatio from Floske Spiekstra. Picture: LNMB.

About Sophie Huiberts

Huiberts did her PhD research from 2017 to 2022 in the Networks & Optimization group of Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica (CWI). She defended her thesis ‘Geometric aspects of linear programming: shadow paths, central paths, and a cutting plane method’ at Utrecht University on 16 May 2022 . After that, she became a Simons Junior Fellow at Columbia University in New York City and since fall 2023, Sophie Huiberts is employed as a CNRS researcher, hosted at LIMOS, Clermont Auvergne University in Clermont-Ferrand. Apart from the Gijs de Leve 2020-2023 prize, her thesis was also awarded the Stieltjes prize 2021-2022.

Gijs de Leve

Huiberts received the De Leve prize in January at the annual congress of the LNMB - the Dutch Network on the Mathematics of Operations Research. The Gijs de Leve Prize consists of ‘everlasting fame’ and 1000 euros. It is named after mathematician Gijs de Leve (1926-2009), who is considered the founder of operations research in the Netherlands. De Leve started working at the Mathematisch Centrum (now called CWI) in 1954 and stood at the base of, among other things, the annual MOR conferences and the foundation of the LNMB. In 1997 the LNMB honoured his ‘godfather role’ by installing the Gijs de Leve prize.

This year, it was the tenth time the De Leve prize was awarded. The numbers two and three (ex aequo) were Lucas Slot (CWI) and Ernst Roos (Tilburg University). Former CWI PhD student Lucas Slot was complimented for his deep mathematical results, single authorship and his elegant and original proof methods. Earlier winners of the De Leve prize who won the prize for their PhD research at CWI are (*) Sem Borst, Bert Zwart, Ton Dieker, Arnoud den Boer and Pieter Kleer.

Aad van Wijngaarden (left) and Gijs de Leve in 1971.
Aad van Wijngaarden (left) and Gijs de Leve (on the right) in 1971.


In 2024, the prize committee for the De Leve Prize consisted of Kees Roos (TUD), Krzysztof Apt (CWI, UvA), René Sitters (VU, CWI), Arnoud den Boer (UvA) and Floske Spieksma (UL). They judged the theses on the number of publications, citations, independence, mathematical depth, diversity of research and research methods, ︎originality in presentation, and writing style. There were 11 nominations.

More information

Header picture: Sophie Huiberts at CWI. Picture made by Léa Junger.