Carnegie Mellon University

photo of Lenore BlumLenore Blum

The University wishes to acknowledge the many contributions of Lenore Blum to Carnegie Mellon University, its School of Computer Science, and especially to its entrepreneurship programs. As a Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon, Deans’ Professor in Technology Entrepreneurship, Faculty Director of the Swartz Center for Entrepreneurship, and the Founding Director of Project Olympus, Lenore has helped to lay the foundation for the University’s transformational work in entrepreneurship.

Among the most prominent of Lenore’s contributions is Project Olympus, a proof-of-concept innovation center which she founded in 2007. Project Olympus has been one of the core foundations of the university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem for more than a decade and catalytic to the growth of the regional start-up community. Project Olympus works with faculty and students across campus to bridge the gap between cutting-edge university research/innovation and economy-promoting commercialization for the benefit of our communities. Since 2007, over half the Carnegie Mellon start-ups have come through Project Olympus, with more than 205 companies getting off the ground.

Lenore has driven entrepreneurship initiatives at Carnegie Mellon throughout her career. She wrote proposals, and helped to secure funds and to set up operations for many of the university’s key entrepreneurship programs, including the Olympus Incubator program, Spark Grants, the Innovation Fellows program and the Carnegie Mellon National Science Foundation I-Corps program. Her 2010 White Paper contributed to the success of a proposal from Carnegie Mellon University for the $15 million McCune Big Ideas grant to enable the founding in 2012 of the Carnegie Mellon Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the precursor to the Swartz Center of which she was also Faculty Director. The hugely popular Olympus Show&Tells which she launched in 2007 to showcase CMU talent and innovations, have helped open the university’s doors to the wider regional and global communities.

Lenore’s research, from her early work in model theory and differential fields (logic and algebra) to her work in developing a theory of computation and complexity over continuous domains (mathematics and computer science), has focused on merging seemingly unrelated areas. The latter work (with Felipe Cucker, Mike Shub and Steve Smale), forms a theoretical basis for scientific computation. In 1990 she reported on this work at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Kyoto. On the eve of Alan Turing’s 100th birthday in June 2012, she was plenary speaker at the Turing Centenary Celebration at the University of Cambridge, England, showing how a little known (to logicians and computer scientists!) paper of Turing’s is fundamental to this theory. Lenore is excited by her new research (with her husband Manuel and son Avrim) on creating a mathematical model for a “conscious AI/conscious Turing Machine.” She has given invited talks at international conferences in the US, Europe, China, Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Latin America and Africa. Most recently, in the fall of 2018, she gave a plenary talk on “Towards a Conscious AI: A Computer Architecture Inspired by Cognitive Neuroscience” at Microsoft Research Asia’s 20th Anniversary Celebration in Beijing.

Lenore is internationally recognized for her work in increasing the participation of girls and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. She was founding co- Director of the Math/Science Network and its Expanding Your Horizons conferences, which has served over one million middle and high school girls since inception in the early 1970s. In 1974, Lenore founded the Mills College Computer Science Department, the first at any women’s college on the planet. Arriving at CMU in 1999, she founded the Women@SCS program –currently half the undergraduate CS majors at CMU are women. At CMU, she was one of the longest serving members on the President’s Diversity Advisory Committee (DAC).

Lenore has also been committed to increasing public understanding of mathematics, prominent examples of which have been Mathematical Sciences Research Institute’s (MSRI) Fermat Fest and “Conversations” between mathematics teachers and researchers. For the Y2K meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC, she organized a day long symposium on “The Reasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics” (Part I. Mathematics in Hollywood, Industry and Daily Life; Part II. Complexity and Computation: Paradigms for the 21st Century). At CMU, she co-founded CS4HS for high school teachers, now scaled world-wide by Google.

Lenore has served the professional community in numerous capacities, including as third President of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) and Vice President of the American Mathematical Society (AMS). She was Chair of Section A (Mathematics) of the AAAS. She has taught at the University of California at Berkeley, was a Senior Researcher at the International Computer Science Institute and served as Deputy Director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI), both also in Berkeley. She was a Trustee of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, on the Board of hackNY, a member of the City of Pittsburgh Advisory Board on Entrepreneurship & Start-ups, and a member of the Advisory Board of the new free online WorldQuant University, built on the premise that while talent is universally distributed, opportunity is not. She has been Faculty Advisor to the Carnegie Mellon student organization, Scotty Labs, since inception.

In 1980, Blum was elected Fellow of the AAAS. In June 1999, on the 25th anniversary of the founding the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at Mills College, she was awarded Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. She is an inaugural fellow of both the AMS and the AWM. In 2004 Lenore received the US Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring. In 2009 she received the Carnegie Science Catalyst Award recognizing her work targeting high-tech talent to promote economic growth in the Pittsburgh region and for increasing the participation of women in computer science. In 2018, she received Carlow University’s Women of Spirit Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Simmons University.

In 2017 Jean Mou and her husband, CMU trustee Yoshi Fujimori, seeded the Lenore Blum Innovation Fund, an endowed fund to provide support for Project Olympus with a preference towards initiatives promoting diversity, thus joining together two of Lenore’s great passions. Donations to the fund may be made at