Dr. Sigal Gottlieb, professor of mathematics, is a champion of scientific computing: the development and implementation of computational methods to solve complex scientific problems. She is the founding director of UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Scientific Computing and Visualization Research (CSCVR), the university’s hub for computational research.
With advances in supercomputing capacity, scientific computing has joined theory and experimentation as one of the three pillars of modern science. It is now used regularly for the simulation of complex problems such as climate modeling, weather prediction, the design of airplanes and engines, and the study of star formation and supernovae.
To explain scientific computing to those outside the field, Gottlieb outlined its essential steps: "make an observation, build a mathematical model, develop a numerical method, write the code and run it." And thereby move closer to "understanding the universe," the ultimate goal of all science.
Common language of mathematics and computation
CSCVR brings together faculty from various colleges and disciplines such as mathematics, computer science, physics, electrical engineering, biology, fisheries oceanography, chemistry, civil engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering.
"We have a remarkable group of highly-qualified scientists with complementary backgrounds and interests who develop and use computational algorithms to simulate and visualize complex physical problems," said Dr. Gottlieb.
"Our campus has significant multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary expertise in scientific computing, and we are leveraging our strengths to build an internationally recognized center of excellence. Our common language is mathematics and computation."
Modern research problems
The center investigates modern research problems spanning algorithms, numerical modeling, data analysis, and optimization in the fields of engineering, science, and mathematics. Its members' work has been consistently funded by agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA as well as private foundations and industry.
CSCVR takes seriously its mission to educate and mentor the next generation of researchers in the computational sciences. It houses state-of-the-art computational clusters that give both faculty and students access to sophisticated hardware tools that can be leveraged to solve large-scale parallel computing and data-intensive tasks. It also supports students enrolled in the Engineering and Applied Science Ph.D. program.
Gottlieb recently led a system-wide group in organizing the first UMass High Performance Computing Day. The event showcased the high-performance computing work done across the UMass system and included more than 100 scientists from the UMass system, with a series of talks and poster presentations by faculty members and industry partners.
Numerical research and computational mathematics
In her own research activities, Gottlieb develops and analyzes numerical methods that reliably compute how complex flows evolve in time.
Her work has been funded by the NSF, AFOSR and by a grant from KAUST. She was the opening plenary speaker on the topic "Strong Stability Preserving Time Discretization" at this year’s International Conference on Spectral and High Order Methods (ICOSAHOM) and has co-authored two books: Spectral Methods for Time Dependent Problems (Cambridge) and Strong Stability Preserving Runge—Kutta and Multistep Methods (World Scientific Press).
Gottlieb leads a computational mathematics research group specializing in numerical solution of hyperbolic partial differential equations. She is currently supervising the research activities of several graduate students in mathematics.