(recorded in 2004)
Ingrid Daubechies' research interests focus on the mathematical aspects of time-frequency analysis, in particular wavelets, as well as applications. Daubechies received both her bachelor's and Ph.D. degrees (in 1975 and 1980) from the Free University in Brussels, Belgium. She held a research position at the Free University until 1987. From 1987-1994, she was a member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories, during which time she took leave to spend six months (in 1990) at the University of Michigan, and two years (1991-93) at Rutgers University. Daubechies was at the Mathematics Department and the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics at Princeton University from 1993 to 2010. She is now a Professor of Mathematics at Duke University.
Listen to the Interview (requires free RealPlayer software):
Ingrid Daubechies talks about her early life in Belgium and her family background. She discusses her father’s career as a mining engineer and the expectation that she would also go on to become an engineer. (8 minutes)
Daubechies describes her early career in theoretical physics and how she learned mathematical tools that proved to be useful later in her work on signal analysis. She also talks about how mathematics is central to several fields, yet people tend to fear it. She discusses the need for better communication of mathematics to the lay public. (12 minutes)
Daubechies continues her discussion on communicating about mathematics to non-experts and draws an analogy between explaining poetry and mathematics. She also explains why mathematics textbooks rarely have illustrations even though mathematicians use drawings to explain concepts to each other. (10 minutes)
Daubechies elaborates on techniques to teach advanced mathematics to students. She then proceeds to give a brief overview of the mathematical construct known as “wavelets,” their applications and her work in this field. (11 minutes)
Daubechies discusses the relationship between computers and modern computing power and the development of new kinds of mathematical tools. She contrasts working in a research lab such as Bell Laboratories with working in an academic setting. (9 minutes)
Daubechies describes some of her latest work, including her work on the Daubechies wavelet and how her way of describing it in a paper caught the attention of engineers and led to immediate applications. (8 minutes)
Last Updated: 07-23-2004
The audio files linked above are part of the National Academy of Sciences InterViews series. Opinions and statements included in these audio files are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academy of Sciences.