Visiting Chair Professors
Lenore Blum Professor

412 268-8139

Complexity and Real Computation, and Transfer Principles for Complexity Theory.


Lenore Blum, Visiting Chair Professor at Peking University, Distinguished Professor at Carnegie Mellon University, AAAS Fellow. Her research centers on complexity and real computation, and transfer principles for complexity theory.


Blum received her Ph.D. in mathematics from M.I.T. in 1968. She then went to UC Berkeley as a Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Mathematics. In 1973 she joined the faculty of Mills College where in 1974 she founded the Mathematics and Computer Science Department (serving as its Head or co-Head for 13 years). In 1979 she was awarded the first Letts-Villard Chair at Mills.


An NSF Career Advancement Award in 1983 enabled Blum to embark on a longtime scientific collaboration with Mike Shub. She spent part of the next two years in New York as Visiting Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center and returned to New York in 1987 as Visiting Scientist at the IBM TJ Watson Research Center.


In 1988 Blum joined the Theory Group of the newly formed International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) in Berkeley. From 1992 to 1996 she also served as Deputy Director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) in Berkeley.


Straddling the historic handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China on July 1, 1997, Blum spent two years, 1996-1998, at the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) as Visiting Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science. Here she completed her book, Complexity and Real Computation, with colleagues and co-authors Felipe Cucker, Mike Shub and Steve Smale and also helped revise the CityU undergraduate mathematics program.


In the fall of 1999, Blum joined the faculty of the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University where she is Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science. Along with Guy Blelloch, she is co-Director on the NSF-ITRxALADDIN Center for ALgorithm ADaptation Dissemination and INtegration. The primary goal of ALADDIN is to improve the process of incorporating powerful algorithms into application domains.


Lenore Blum's research, from her early work in model theory and differential fields (logic and algebra) to her more recent work with Shub and Smale in developing a theory of computation and complexity over the real numbers (mathematics and computer science), has focused on merging seemingly unrelated areas. In 1990 she reported on this latter work at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Kyoto. She has also given invited talks at international conferences in the US, Europe, China, Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Latin America and Africa.


Blum is well known for her work in increasing the participation of girls and women in mathematics and scientific fields. She was instrumental in founding the Association for Women in Mathematics (serving as its President from 1975 to 1978), the Math/Science Network and its Expanding Your Horizons conferences for high school girls (serving as co-Director from 1975 to 1981) and served as co-PI for the Mills Summer Mathematics Institute for undergraduate women. At Carnegie Mellon she has been faculty advisor to the Women@SCS and a member of the President's Diversity Advisory Council.


Blum has also been committed to increasing public understanding of mathematics, prominent examples of which have been MSRI’s Fermat Fest and “Conversations” between mathematics teachers and researchers. For the Y2K meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC, she organized a day long symposium on The Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics (Part I. Mathematics in Hollywood, Industry and Daily Life, Part II. Complexity and Computation: Paradigms for the 21st Century).


Throughout her career, Blum has been an active member of the professional societies. She served on the Council and as Vice President of the American Mathematical Society (1990-1992). After representing the AMS at the Pan African Congress of Mathematicians in Nairobi in the summer of 1991, she became committed to building links between the American and African mathematics communities. She served as Chair of the AAAS Mathematics Section for the years 1998-1999.


In 1979 Blum was elected Fellow of the AAAS. In June 1999, on the 25th anniversary of the founding the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Mills College, she was awarded Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.