Maria Chudnovsky *03
Maria Chudnovsky *03
PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE JOHN D. & CATHERINE T. MACARTHUR FOUNDATION

Mathematician MARIA CHUDNOVSKY *03, a professor at Columbia University, is among this year’s 23 MacArthur Fellows, awarded a $500,000 no-strings-attached “genius grant” for her exploration of graph theory. In mathematics, the MacArthur Foundation noted, a graph is an abstraction that represents a set of similar things and the connections between them. “When used to solve real-world problems, like efficient scheduling for an airline or package-delivery service, graphs are usually so complex that it is not possible to determine whether testing all the possibilities individually will find the best solution in a practical time period,” the foundation said. “Chudnovsky explores classifications and properties of graphs that can serve as shortcuts to brute-force methods; showing that a specific graph belongs to a certain class often implies that it can be calculated relatively quickly.”