Ingrid Daubechies has built a career on breaking barriers and following ideas. “I was always interested in what makes things work,” Daubechies, the James B. Duke Professor of Mathematics and Electrical and Computer Engineering told the Wall Street Journal in a feature story published this week.
Her study of mathematical structures called wavelets – now regularly referred to by others as “Daubechies wavelets” – made possible a wide use of data compression in a large number of applications common to everyday life – from smartphones to MRI machines. More recently, she’s applied the math involved in wavelets to new fields such as the study of fossils and determining art forgeries.
“I don’t know where ideas come from, but I do believe they come from the interaction of many things in our head,” Daubechies told the Wall Street Journal. “Manual activity is very good, keeping your mind open and kind of loose so that connections can be made. … When my children were small, I used to get ideas when I was nursing. Because to nurse you have to be very relaxed, and I would then think of mathematics.”
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