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Charles Clark Receives Government Computer News Award

JQI Co-Director Charles Clark receives Government Computer News Award
JQI Co-Director Charles Clark

JQI Co-Director Charles Clark

Government Computer News (GCN) has named NIST's Digital Library of Mathematical Functions as one of 10 GCN Award Winners for "Outstanding Information Technology Achievement in Government" in 2011. The project team, which includes JQI's Charles Clark, will be honored formally at the 24th Annual GCN Awards Gala, October 19, 2011 at the Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner in McLean, Va.

Putting the Q into IT

Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) Co-Director Charles Clark received last week the 2011 Government Computer News Award for Information Technology Achievement for his contributions to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Digital Library of Mathematical Functions (DLMF). DLMF was chosen as one of ten projects to receive this award, from over 200 nominated across the US Government, according to evaluation criteria of: net impact of the program on the host agency and its customers; the degree of innovation in the technology plan carried out, and the quality of leadership in the team that carried the projects to fruition.

DLMF is a digital library of the “special functions” of mathematics, available free online at and in book form as The NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions (Cambridge University Press, 2010). It is the successor to the famous 1964 Handbook of Mathematical Functions, edited by Milton Abramowitz and Irene Stegun and published by the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST), which may be the most- cited scientific monograph ever.

“The Government Computer News award recognizes the information technology innovations of DLMF, which make possible the efficient distribution, evaluation, processing and quality control of mathematical reference informattion, semantic search and discovery, interactive graphics, live links to software and many other features that were inconceivable in 1964,” says Clark. However, he emphasizes that the key value proposition of DLMF to its user community is the scope and validated quality of its core mathematical material – much of which has been developed in the study of quantum mechanics.

“The ‘hypergeometric function’ is some kind of universal avatar function of mathematics, which approximately describes a vast range of phenomena in natural and social sciences,” says Clark. “Perhaps the largest single user community of the hypergeometric function is the guild of quantum mechanics, whose members are familiar with it in the context of the theory of angular momentum, the harmonic oscillator, the hydrogen atom and particle scattering. It provides a framework for further rich developments in practical quantum mechanics. We also find quantum phenomena expressed in terms of functions closer to the frontiers of mathematical research, such as Painlevé transcendents and Heun functions. Recent advances in the physics of ultracold gases have drawn renewed attention to these, and in turn to the connection of quantum mechanics with a vast range of other seemingly disconnected phenomena.”

The Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) in College Park, Maryland is operated by the University of Maryland and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, with the support and participation of the Laboratory for Physical Sciences.

Media Contact
Phillip F. Schewe
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