Dr. Svetlana Jitomirskaya to Hold Inaugural Hubbard Chair Position Starting Fall 2022

July 21, 2021

Elaine M. Hubbard's Legacy

In September 2003, not long after retiring from her 28-year career as a mathematics professor at Kennesaw State University with a known passion for teaching, Elaine M. Hubbard, PhD Math '72, included a provision in her estate plans to establish the Elaine M. Hubbard Endowed Chair in the School of Mathematics — the School’s first endowed faculty chair. This fund serves to support robust, leading-edge mathematics education and research at Georgia Tech.

Dr. Svetlana Jitomirskaya Receives Inagural Appointment

Dr. Svetlana Jitomirskaya, a Distinguished Professor at the University of California Irvine, will be the inaugural Hubbard Chair Professor at the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech, starting in the Fall of 2022.

There is no better choice than Svetlana Jitomirskaya to occupy this inaugural Chair as she is both a worldwide recognized expert in Analysis, and widely appreciated, among her students and her University, for her dedication to teaching Mathematics at the highest level of excellence.

Prof. Jean V. Bellissard, School of Mathematics

Biographical Information

Prof. Jitomirskaya was born in Kharkov Ukraine in 1966, at a time when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union. Her parents were both mathematicians, and she describes both of them as survivors, having barely escaped the German invasion of Kiev which was a death sentence for Jews in 1941. Her mother managed to become the only female Professor of Mathematics in Ukraine for twenty years after she received her PhD. Her father persisted all the way to the top of the academic ladder despite facing multiple obstacles, one after the other, in the antisemitic atmosphere of the 1950's in Soviet Union. Fortunately, Svetlana escaped their fate, coming of age during the perestroika.

A Highly Impactful Career in Mathematics

Prof. Jitomirskaya graduated from Moscow University under the supervision of Yaklov G. Sinai. Sinai was himself a student of Kolmogorov, who was a student of Lusin, the scientific ancestor of some of the best Mathematicians and Theoretical Physicists produced by the Soviet Union after 1916. 

[Prof. Jitomirskaya] brings to GaTech a brilliant scientific genealogy which is really hard to match.

She is a scientific granddaughter of A.N. Kolmogorov (the greatest Russian mathematician ever - who also at all accounts among the top five mathematicians of the 20th century) and her advisor Y. Sinai is an Abel (analog of Nobel) prize winner. The spirit of this school is that mathematics is a rigorously proved (i.e. a true) common sense. In other words, mathematicians should not just prove what scientists and engineers already understood but uncover why their ideas are right and show them the way further, and even bring in new ideas, which mathematicians must rigorously justify, especially in cases when these new ideas contradict "preexisting" physics intuition.

Prof. Leonid Bunimovich, School of Mathematics

By a bizarre turn of events, Prof. Jitomirskaya became a master of the small divisor problem, one of the most difficult problems in modern analysis, relating herself to a long tradition of fine analysts at Kharkov University.

[Prof. Jitomirskaya] is one of todays leading mathematical physicists with numerous deep results on the spectral theory of Schrödinger operators with emphasis on the spectral properties of almost periodic Schrödinger operators. In her work she made fundamental contributions to the mathematical understanding of metal-insulator transition phenomena and her contributions were instrumental for determining the nature of the spectrum of the almost Mathieu equation which was called the Ten Martini problem by Mark Kac. 

Prof. Michael Loss, School of Mathematics

The small divisor problem is an obstacle in astronomy to predicting the long-term movement of multiple, interacting, celestial bodies. It also one of the causes for the strange fractal structure of the rings of Saturn. It comes from a resonance phenomenon between conflicting incommensurate periods of rotation.

[Prof. Jitomirskaya's] work on the small divisor problem for Schödinger's equations with quasiperiodic potential in one-dimension is absolutely amazing. Her breakthrough attracted the attention of two Fields Medalists, Jean Bourgain and Artur Avila, who collaborated with her. She is invited at ICM 22 for a plenary talk. And she became recently a correspondent of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. ... I met her for the first time in the early 1990's in Vienna at the Erwing Schrödinger Institute. It was already obvious to me that she was outstanding.

Prof. Jean Bellissard, School of Mathematics

Prof. Jitomirskaya works at the intersection of Analysis, Mathematical Physics, Dynamical Systems, and Probability theory. Her major area of research is initiated by the Mark Kac question: "Can one hear the shape of a drum"?, and she has under her belt a variety of outstanding results culminating with solution of the "ten martini problem". 

One domain of application for Prof. Jitomirskaya's work is Quantum Mechanics, dealing with paradigmatic Schrodinger equation for one-dimensional systems, and especially the so-called 'Almost Mathieu Model'. There, interferences between two or more waves of matter having incommensurate spatial periods produce several types of complex patterns which are even harder to master in detail. Her work focused on finding methods to solve this problem. She achieved that goal masterfully, for the cases of the paradigmatic equations, starting with her 1999 Annals of Math paper and onward. This work attracted the attention of two Fields Medalists with whom Prof. Jitomirskaya collaborated.

International Recognition

Prof. Jitomirskaya was awarded the Satter Prize from the American Mathematical Association in 2005, and the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics awarded by the American Physics association and the American Institute of Physics in 2020. She is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) since 2018. And she has been chosen to deliver a Plenary Lecture at the International Congress of Mathematics in 2022.

Very recently [Prof. Jitomirskaya] was invited to deliver a plenary address at the Internation Congress of Mathematicians in 2022. Already an invitation to give a talk in ICM is a high honor but a plenary address is something exceptional.

[The School of Mathematics] hiring of professor Jitomirskaya does not only raise the level of the School of Mathimatics, but it raises the level of the Institute.

-Prof. Leonid Bunimovich, School of Mathematics

Accolades for Research and Teaching

For her work, Prof. Jitomirskaya received many honors, among them the prestigious 2020 Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics. Prof. Jitomirskaya is also the recipient of the 2005 Ruth Lyttle Satter Prize from the American Mathematical Society and a member of the of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In addition, Prof. Jitomirskaya has dedicated a large part of her career to teaching. She received the UCI Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research in 2018. She has advised many graduate students and post-doctoral researchers, who eventually found positions in the academic world.

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