Roland Speicher and Gregory Smith, professors and awardwinning mathematicians20120601

Queen’s mathematicians Roland Speicher and Gregory Smith are paving the road forward with innovative research and garnering accolades along the way.
Dr. Speicher studies free probability, a relatively new mathematical theory that tackles problems in operator algebras and random matrices. The theory impacts several applied problems, particularly the calculation of the capacity of wireless communication networks and improvements in financial markets.
Dr. Speicher, who was fascinated by the theory as a PhD student, has developed an alternative approach, leading to many new insights and theorems.
“Free probability was just at the beginning during my doctoral studies, but the beauty and depth of the theory was already apparent,” says Dr. Speicher. “Since then I have worked on many different aspects of free probability and I am pleased to see that some of my work is now fundamental for the work of young researchers.”
Dr. Smith studies algebraic geometry – in particular, polynomial equations.
“It’s a central area of mathematics because these sorts of equations are simpler than other equations mathematicians study and therefore show up in many models and applications,” says Dr. Smith.
Propelled into the field by a love of geometry, Dr. Smith has made many contributions to Macaulay2, a software system that supports research in algebraic geometry and commutative algebra and whose tools have found many users, including physicists, algebrists and geometers. Dr. Smith is also known for his clear and accessible research papers, which are often cited by other mathematicians.
Algebraic geometry and polynomial equations are used in computer design programs to model the shape of cars, and create the curves that distinguish modern vehicles. They are also applied in modern physics theories, mathematical biology and chemistry.
Dr. Speicher and Dr. Smith were recently recognized by the Canadian Mathematical Society for their outstanding contributions. Dr. Speicher won the JefferyWilliams Prize and Dr. Smith won the CoxeterJames Prize.