Fred Shultz

fshultz@wellesley.edu

(781) 283-3118
Mathematics
B.S., California Institute of Technology; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin (Madison)



Frederic W. Shultz
Professor of Mathematics

Research involves operator algebras, and quantum information theory, both of which involve linear algebra and functional analysis.


A simple example of an operator algebra is the set of square matrices of a given size, but the algebras of most interest are often infinite dimensional. The study of operator algebras was originally motivated by an attempt to understand the foundations of quantum mechanics, in a long tradition of mathematics being created in an effort to solve scientific questions. I’ve always had a great interest in quantum mechanics, ever since taking a course from the physicist Richard Feynman, who was the most inspirational teacher I ever encountered. There are applications of operator algebras in many fields, including quantum mechanics, dynamical systems, group representations, tilings, and knot theory.

Recently I’ve been working in the field of quantum information theory. This includes quantum computing, which has the potential to create computers that are far faster than those in use today, at least for certain kinds of calculations. One aspect of this field is that it is only about 20 years old, and has participants from many fields besides mathematics, such as physics, computing, and engineering. Mathematical questions involving matrix algebras play an essential role.

Mathematics is frequently a social enterprise, and I’ve often worked in collaboration. For example, I’ve written research monographs with Erik Alfsen (University of Oslo), e.g., “State spaces of operator algebras,” which is probably the part of my work which is the best known. I’ve also written a software/book combination, Joy of Mathematica, with Alan Shuchat. In a different kind of collaboration, I’ve particularly enjoyed the chance to team teach courses when they are being newly developed and taught at Wellesley, including Elementary Statistics and Mathematics for the Sciences I. My research involves material from Linear Algebra, Analysis, and Abstract Algebra, but I also enjoy teaching courses that are in quite different areas, such as Combinatorics and Graph Theory and Introduction to Chaotic Dynamical Systems.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Wellesley is the chance to discuss the craft of teaching with others. In graduate school I participated in the development of a calculus course taught by what would now be called inquiry based learning, related to the discovery method or Moore method for teaching mathematics, and have enjoyed the courses I’ve taught in that style at Wellesley. I like to experiment with different teaching methods, so that even though I’ve taught calculus many times, the experience is still new.

One aspect of Wellesley that I value is faculty governance. While time consuming, this is also enjoyable. I invested a considerable amount of time and energy as chair of the Budget Advisory Committee, and as co-chair of the Plans and Priorities Committee (a long range planning committee of faculty and trustees), and as chair of the Advisory Committee on Library and Technology Policy.

I’m an avid golfer. I thank my wife for her patience the hundreds of times that she has heard that at last I’ve found the secret to a successful golf swing. I’m an enthusiastic Red Sox fan, and enjoy tennis, skiing, amateur economics, and politics. I’m married with three children and one grandchild.

Additional information, including a list of my publications, can be found at http://palmer.wellesley.edu/~fshultz.

Mathematics Department

 


Upcoming Events

Monday, Oct 20

The weekly student seminar meets in room 362 at 12:20.  This week we'll have a summer research programs panel.  The department will provide lunch, and one of your peers will provide a great talk.  All are welcome to attend!

Wednesday, Oct 22

Our Applicable Math Lecture series kicks off for the year with Mike Remolona from Wolfram Research Inc giving a talk discussing Mathematica 10 and how to get the most out of wolframalpha.com.  We'll have a reception (with food!) at 3:45 in SCI 362, then move to SCI 296 at 4:15 for the talk.

Thursday, Oct 23

Our second Putnam problem session meets today and runs from 12:30 to 1:20 in SCI 364.  This week we'll have homemade cookies (chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and ginger molasses) to help fuel our problem solving neurons.  Everyone is welcome to attend!

Thursday, Oct 23

Our second department colloquium is given by Megan Heenehan (Wellesley '03) from Eastern Connecticut State University. We'll meet in SCI 362 for snacks and socializing at 3:45, then the talk will begin at 4:15 in SCI 396.  Everyone is welcome to attend!  

Monday, Oct 27

The weekly student seminar meets in room 362 at 12:20.  This week Angela Gu will be speaking.  The department will provide lunch, and one of your peers will provide a great talk.  All are welcome to attend!

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