Carnegie Mellon University
March 23, 2023

Frieze Named Orion Hoch Professor of Mathematical Sciences

By Heidi Opdyke

Jocelyn Duffy
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University Professor Alan Frieze, one of the founders of the field of random discrete structures, has been named the Orion Hoch Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

"Over the past 40 years Alan has been an influential leader in probabilistic combinatorics," said Rebecca W. Doerge, the Glen de Vries Dean of the Mellon College of Science. "He has been enormously influential in the development of CMU's interdisciplinary approach to algorithms, combinatorics and optimization, and his discoveries will impact mathematics and computer science well into the future."

Among his accomplishments, Frieze's randomized algorithms have been used to solve important questions in computer science and his work has impacted diverse fields, including business and information networking. He also collaborated with Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences Wes Pegden to develop mathematical theorems to establish rigorously when an electoral district is gerrymandered.

"Alan is one of the most decorated colleagues in the department, with many honors and accolades to his credit," said Prasad Tetali, Alexander M. Knaster Professor and head of Carnegie Mellon's Department of Mathematical Sciences. "He is a pioneer in the field of random structures and algorithms, with tireless dedication to advancing the field for the last four decades and counting. I am most delighted that he is recognized by CMU with this richly deserved honor."

Frieze first arrived at Carnegie Mellon as a visiting professor in 1983-1984. He returned in 1987 and helped cofound Carnegie Mellon’s interdisciplinary Algorithms, Combinatorics and Optimization Ph.D. program shortly thereafter. The program is jointly administered by the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the Computer Science Department and the Tepper School of Business.

In 1991, Frieze received the prestigious Fulkerson Prize for his work on computing the volume of a convex body. His contributions to graph theory led to a plenary address at the quadrennial International Congress of Mathematicians in 2014, a degree of recognition accorded to only a handful of mathematicians. A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Frieze is a fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics and a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.

In 2017, Frieze was named a University Professor, the highest designation a CMU faculty member can achieve.

"The Orion Hoch Chair is a nice recognition," said Frieze of his latest accolade. He is the third faculty to member to hold the chair since its inception in 1999. He succeeds Steve Shreve, who held the chair starting in 2006 until his retirement, and David Heath, the inaugural chair recipient.

The chair is named for philanthropist and industrialist Orion Hoch, who was chairman emeritus and a director of Litton Industries, a leading aerospace and defense company. Hoch received his bachelor's of science degree in physics from Carnegie Mellon in 1952 and his doctorate from Stanford in 1957. Throughout the years, he has served Carnegie Mellon in various capacities. Elected a trustee in 1985 and a life trustee in 1991, Hoch was an emeritus life trustee prior to his death in 2019. He also had served on the MCS Advisory Board and the Physics Advisory Board.