Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has included six MIT faculty members among the 146 newly elected Fellows.
The 1998 Fellows from MIT are Professor Robert W. Field of chemistry; Ellen T. Harris, the Class of 1949 Professor of Music; Nancy H. Hopkins of biology, Pauline Maier, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor in the history section; Professor of Psychology Steven Pinker, director of the Center Cognitive Neuroscience; and Professor of Physics Rainer Weiss. Four faculty members received the honor last year.
The Academy named the new Fellows, as well as 22 foreign honorary members, at a meeting of its council on April 17. Other new Fellows recognized for their distinguished contributions to science, scholarship, public affairs and the arts include opera singer Beverly Sills; E. Donall Thomas, Nobel laureate in medicine; Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Millhauser, and John Wilford, science editor of The New York Times. Among the Fellows of the Academy are 161 Nobel laureates and 65 Pulitzer Prize winners.
They join an organization founded in 1780 by John Adams and other national leaders as a learned society to "cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent and virtuous people." Current Academy projects include the Committee on International Security Studies, engaged in a long-term study of current global security issues; and the Initiatives for Children project, dealing with the critical problems confronting children, with a particular emphasis on health and education.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 6, 1998.