USD Math Department Receives $4.5 million Award from DOD, Option for $7.5 Million in Total Grant Funding

The University of San Diego (USD) received a $4.5 million award from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research, over a three-year period. Of this amount, the government has allotted $1.5 million in the first year. If the DOD funds the entire program, by extending the research for another two years, this would total $7.5 million and be the largest award to the university. The research funding will benefit the USD Department of Mathematics within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Michael Shulman, associate professor of mathematics at USD, applied for the grant which will, essentially, research the theoretical foundations of computer programming that helps mathematicians verify their work by checking mathematical proofs, and therefore, provides confidence in the correctness of a theory. 

“With the increasing importance of mathematics and computers in our daily lives, as well as the defense of our country, it’s essential to ensure the correctness of proofs and software. Our project uses the mathematics of shape and deformation to create new programming languages for this purpose that are more intuitive and easier to use, and gives student researchers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new kind of mathematics,” said Dr. Shulman.

Dr. Shulman will be collaborating with the following institution to contribute to the research project: Carnegie Mellon University, Wesleyan University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Minnesota. The funding will support 13 USD student fellowships through the life of the project, who will get hands-on experience and the mentorship of Dr. Shulman.

“This grant from the DOD’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research is an incredible opportunity for Dr. Shulman to expand on work in the mathematics field that can benefit our military. This is also an invaluable experience for our student researchers who will get hands-on experience and develop mathematical insight that will help our community near and far as we continue to serve as an anchor institution,” said Dr. Noelle Norton, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. 

The project began on January 15, 2021 and will continue through 2024, with an option for an additional two years of research. 

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Elena Gomez
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