Assistant Professor of Mathematics Brian Sutton
14th Leslie Fox Prize in Numerical Analysis
Randolph-Macon College Assistant Professor of Mathematics Brian Sutton, Ph.D., was
awarded first place for one of the highest awards in the field of mathematics, the
14th Leslie Fox Prize in Numerical Analysis, for his research in applied mathematics.
Dr. Sutton competed against five finalists from Britain, France, Belgium, China
and the United States. Each finalist gave a 40-minute lecture about his research
during the prize ceremony which was held on June 29, 2009, at the Mathematics Institute,
University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.
“This is terrific news,” said R-MC president Robert R. Lindgren. “Brian is one of
Randolph-Macon’s finest and deserves this distinguished honor. We congratulate him
on this exceptional achievement and are delighted that his talent is recognized
throughout the world.“
Dr. Sutton’s article, “Computing the Complete CS Decomposition,” presents an algorithm
that computes the cosine-sine decomposition of a partitioned unitary matrix. An
algorithm is a step-by-step procedure for solving a problem, often used for calculation
and data processing. The algorithm in Dr. Sutton’s research appears to be the only
stable algorithm for computing the CS decomposition, which breaks a unitary matrix
into a product of rotations in a high dimensional space.
In an abstract to describe the research, Sutton writes, “Although the existence
of the CS decomposition (CSD) has been recognized since 1977, prior algorithms compute
only a reduced version. This reduced version, which might be called a 2-by-1 CSD,
is equivalent to two simultaneous singular value decompositions. The new algorithm
computes the complete 2-by-2 CSD, which requires the simultaneous diagonalization
of all four blocks of a unitary matrix partitioned into a 2-by-2 block structure.”
Dr. Sutton began work on the CS decomposition in the fall of 2004. His algorithm
uses a tool called QR iteration, which was developed by John Francis in 1959. A
mini-symposium was held June 23-26, 2009, in Glasgow, Scotland, to celebrate the
50th anniversary of his discovery. Dr. Sutton had the privilege of meeting Francis
during the event.
The notable Leslie Fox Prize is awarded every other year to promising mathematicians
who are under the age of 31. The submissions are judged by a committee of respected
peers based on originality and quality of the subject. Special consideration is
also given to the suitability of the material for a 40-minute lecture to an audience
of numerical analysts. Leslie Fox was a British mathematician noted for his contributions
to numerical analysis. He earned a DPhil in computational and engineering mathematics
at Oxford under the supervision of Sir Richard Southwell. Dr. Fox was named the
director of the University of Oxford’s Computing laboratory and later became the
first professor of numerical analysis at the University. The Leslie Fox Prize was
established upon his retirement in 1983 with the aim of giving encouragement and
recognition to young research workers.
Dr. Sutton joined the faculty at Randolph-Macon College in 2005. He earned bachelor's
degrees in both mathematics and computer science at Virginia Tech and his Ph.D.
at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has been an invited presenter at
more than a dozen conferences and lectures. Dr. Sutton’s research and other writings
have been published in several academic and instructional publications. He plans
to continue exploring the CS decomposition and its applications, possibly even to