Growing Up in Academia
Montag 06.05.2024 18:00 — 19:30
Online Event

Growing up in Academia with Lenore Blum

Lenore Blum today ...

Lenore Blum today ...

... and 1968.

... and 1968.

What is it to be a scientist? How does one become a scientist? Growing Up in Academia is a conversation series with academics at different levels of their career focusing on the sometimes short, sometimes long and winding roads behind the “official CV”.

Each event features an open conversation (interview) with a different faculty member, representing the broad spectrum of academic life. We will cover topics such as dealing with expectations (your own and others’), the role of luck/coincidence in scientific discovery, impostor syndrome, procrastination, and conflicts with advisors. Join us for a conversation about the human factors that universally inform the profession, but that too often remain unspoken. These events will be hosted and presented by Lucia Melloni (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics). 

On Monday, May 6, 6 p.m. CET, Growing Up in Academia features Lenore Blum, Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science, Emerita

This Growing Up in Academia session is an online event: Please register here

Official CV

The following is excerpted from, “The ‘Accidental Activist’ Who Changed the Face of Mathematics”, by Ben Brubaker in Quanta Magazine, January 23, 2024.

“Lenore Blum’s long career has spanned the breadth of mathematics and computer science. She’s done influential work in logic and cryptography, and she formulated an entirely new model of computation. And though she didn’t set out to do so, she’s also devoted a significant chunk of her time to building institutions to help women follow in her footsteps.

““I had never wanted to think of myself as a woman mathematician,” she said. “But I started realizing I had a role to play.”

“Her personal life, too, has led her to unexpected places. Born in New York City in 1942, Blum moved to Caracas, Venezuela, at the age of 9 when her father went into business with a relative. There she met Manuel Blum, who would become her husband of 62 years and a pioneering computer scientist himself. In Caracas, Blum also discovered the other great love of her life, mathematics.

“After overcoming many obstacles, she made her way to graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, she specialized in a branch of logic called model theory, which analyzes the common features of different mathematical theories derived from the same underlying assumptions. Blum received her doctorate at age 25 for developing a new way to apply this high-level perspective to mathematical structures called algebraic field theories.

“Upon graduating, Blum received a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship, but she soon found the path to a traditional academic career closed off to female mathematicians. That’s when she first got involved in advocacy. She played a leading role in founding the Association for Women in Mathematics and went on to establish many influential programs for supporting women students.

“But she never lost sight of mathematics and the nascent field of computer science. In the 1980s, Blum began to work with the mathematicians Stephen Smale and Michael Shub to develop a formal theory of computation using continuous real numbers instead of zeros and ones.

“Continuous mathematics like calculus is an essential part of many algorithms in fields ranging from computational physics to machine learning. Implementing such algorithms on digital computers invariably involves approximation, but theoretical analysis of their limitations is plagued by subtleties stemming from those approximations. Blum’s work gave researchers a rigorous new way to study the mathematical foundations of calculus-based algorithms. It also enabled a new approach to computational complexity theory, the study of the fundamental difficulty of different computational problems.

“And though Blum retired four years ago from Carnegie Mellon University, where she had been on the faculty since 1999, that hasn’t stopped her from finding new questions to explore. In recent years, she and her husband have worked together to formulate a mathematical model of consciousness inspired by theoretical computer science. And she’s putting her many years of leadership experience to use as the president of the newly formed Association for Mathematical Consciousness Science.”

Unoffical CV

“Accidental Activist: An Interview with Lenore Blum”, Berkeley Science Review, May 21, 2020.

Part 1

Part 2 




The event will be held on Zoom. Pleaso note the Data Protection Information Regarding Zoom Webinars.