Nancy Lynch one of four MIT professors elected to National Academy of Sciences

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May 3, 2016

MIT News Office

Lynch honored for research achievements.

Nancy Lynch


Four MIT faculty members have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in recognition of their “distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”

MIT’s four new NAS members are: Arup Chakraborty, the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering and director of MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science; Nancy Lynch, the NEC Professor of Software Science and Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; Hidde Ploegh, a professor of biology and member of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research; and David Sabatini, a professor of biology and member of the Whitehead Institute.

The quartet of MIT professors was among 84 new members and 21 new foreign associates, from 14 countries, elected to the NAS. Membership in the NAS is one of the most significant honors given to academic researchers.

Nancy Lynch studies the theory of distributed computation. In recent years, her work has focused on questions about ad hoc networks — networks that are constantly adding and dropping members. How can you guarantee that a vital piece of information will reach every member of a network, if the shape of the network is always changing? How can you distribute data across a network so that you won’t lose information if any members drop out, but you won’t overwhelm members’ memory banks with unnecessary redundancy?

Lynch received her bachelor’s in mathematics from Brooklyn College in 1968 and her PhD in mathematics from MIT in 1972. She taught at Georgia Tech from 1976 to 1981, before joining the faculty at MIT, where she’s been for 35 years. She is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and a member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. Her many previous honors include Donald E. Knuth Prize for outstanding contributions to the foundations of computer science, jointly awarded by the ACM and IEEE, and two Edsger W. Dijkstra Prizes from the ACM for outstanding papers on the principles of distributed computing.

Read this article on MIT News.