The MIT recipients are Senthil Todadri, a professor of physics, and Piotr Indyk, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science. For the next five years, they will each receive $100,000 annually to support their research.
The goal of the Simons Investigators program is to provide support for outstanding scientists, enabling them to undertake long-term study. It is one of several programs sponsored by The Simons Foundation, based in New York City, to advance research in mathematics and the basic sciences.
A condensed matter theorist, Todadri worked with colleague Matthew Fisher, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, on Z2 topological order in spin liquid states. His research provided key insights into, and initiated investigation of, certain structures in many-body systems (systems of interacting particles) — which is now a vital subfield of condensed matter physics.
Additionally, Todadri, who came to MIT in 2001, helped pioneer the theory of deconfined quantum criticality. And along with colleagues, he introduced the concept of fractionalized Fermi liquids and developed a theory of continuous electronic Mott transitions.
Most recently, his research has focused on symmetry-protected topological phases (certain zero-temperature states of matter) and combining the concepts of quantum entanglement and many-body systems. Colleagues say this recent work continues to move the boundaries of how to study quantum many-body systems. Todadri is a member of the Condensed Matter Theory Group at MIT.
Indyk is noted for his work on efficient approximate algorithms for high-dimensional geometric problems. This includes the nearest neighbor search, where given a data point, the goal is to find points highly similar to it, without scanning the whole data set. To address this problem he co-developed the technique of Locality Sensitive Hashing, which proved to be influential in many applications, ranging from data mining to computer vision.
Additionally, Indyk has made significant contributions to sub-linear algorithms for massive data problems. In particular, he has developed several approximate algorithms for massive data streams that use very limited space.
Recently, Indyk has co-developed new algorithms for the sparse Fourier transform, which compute the Fourier transform of signals with sparse spectra faster than the FFT algorithm. Indyk is a member of the Theory of Computation Group at CSAIL, the MIT Center for Wireless Networks and Mobile Computing and bigdata@CSAIL.