Using matrix theory to untangle social media explored in lecture

Contact: Mark Schwerin
Photo of Dr. Mark .


KALAMAZOO—A noted scholar from Rice University will examine how matrix theory can uncover obscure relationships among members of a social network when he speaks later this month at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Mark Embree, professor of computational applied mathematics at Rice, will speak at 4 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26, in 1110 Rood Hall. His presentation, titled "Untangling Social Networks and Finding Favorite Films with Modern Matrix Theory," is free and open to the public.

In his talk, Embree will discuss matrix theory, a venerable field of mathematics that is constantly providing insight into contemporary applications. His lecture will describe several problems illuminated by matrix computations and linear algebra, such as uncovering obscure relationships among members of a social network and using partial information provided by a community to predict movie preferences.

Mark Embree

In addition to his duties as professor, Embree serves as co-director of the Rice Center for Engineering Leadership. He has been teaching computational and applied mathematics classes at Rice since 2002.

Embree grew up in Virginia and received his undergraduate degree in computer science in mathematics at Virginia Tech, where he was awarded Man of the Year and Outstanding Student honors in the VT College of Arts and Sciences in 1996. A Rhodes Scholar, he went on to obtain his doctoral degree at Oxford University in numerical analysis, where he also worked as a post-doc. He is coauthor of the book "Spectra and Pseudospectra: The Behavior of Non-Normal Matrices and Operators."

Embree moved to Houston in 2002 to join the Rice faculty. He was recognized earlier this year with a George R. Brown Prize for Teaching, Rice's only universitywide teaching award.

His research interests focus on applied linear algebra and scientific computing, as well as Krylov subspace methods, non-normal operators and spectral perturbation theory, Toeplitz matrices, random matrices and damped wave operators.

The event is sponsored by the Michigan Epsilon Chapter of the national mathematics honors society Pi Mu Epsilon, MathClub@WMU and the WMU Department of Mathematics.

For more information, contact Dr. Niloufer Mackey, WMU professor of mathematics, at (269) 387-4594.