An international team of mathematicians whose theories have improved the compression of large digital data files, including images and sound, will be recognized with one of the most prestigious awards in the Spanish-speaking world.
The Spanish foundation that organizes the annual Princess of Asturias Awards said on Tuesday that the 2020 Prize for Scientific and Technical Research will go to Yves Meyer, Ingrid Daubechies, Terence Tao and Emmanuel Candes.
The contributions of Meyer and Daubechies in the mid-1980s in wavelet theory were key in the development of the system that compresses images into JPEG 2000 files, a much more advanced version of the original JPEGs. Among other practical applications in the digital world, his theories also allowed him to receive images taken by Hubble, the space telescope, on Earth and the study of cosmic gravitational waves caused by black hole collisions.
Based on the research of their scientific colleagues, Tao and Candes later developed theories and techniques that were used for health detection with magnetic resonance imaging scanners, or MRIs.
“This award underscores the social contribution of mathematics and its importance as a crosscutting element in all branches of science,” the jury wrote in a statement.
Named after the crown heir, Princess Eleanor, the annual awards are presented in eight different categories, from arts to sports. Recipients receive 50,000 euros ($ 56,000) in a lavish ceremony to be held in October.
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