Degree: PhD, 1995


  • INFORMS Computing Society Prize (2010)
  • John von Neumann professor, Technical University of Munich, Germany (2012)
  • Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (2014)
  • MAA Golden Section Teaching Award (2017)

I entered CAM in Fall 1990. It was one of the best choices of my life. CAM, Cornell and Ithaca were a peaceful and beautiful setting, specially for someone who grew up in hectic Mexico city, but they were also perfect to develop my career and pursue my interests. Indeed my interdisciplinary interests were perfectly represented by CAM (we could take advisors from pretty much any department), Back in those days I cared (and still care) about algorithms, combinatorics, the new applications of algebra and geometry to optimization. My own thesis was quite diverse combining polyhedral geometry and symbolic algebra algorithms. Fast forward many years now and I continue to do research on those topics. I am grateful because some of the great scientific moments of my career came from a view, I learned at CAM, that all types of mathematics can be applied and that computers have changed our views of creating new Mathematics. Currently, I am proud to spread this idea as one of the founding editors of the SIAM journal of Applied Algebra and Geometry and also and active editor of the journal SIAM Discrete Mathematics.

Advice: My most important advice is be passionate! Fall in love with your thesis! Work hard! Be kind and a friend to everyone, specially those younger than you! CAM is unique as it has enough rigor to train strong Applied Computational Mathematicians, but enough freedom to let the creative mind flourish. Make sure to explore new parts of math you are not comfortable with. Get to know professors and students outside your own field. It is true, Ithaca is gorges! So skip the office every now and then and enjoy the nature nearby!

I am grateful to CAM staff (Dolores Pendell!) and the many inspiring teachers and friends I made at CAM (B. Sturmfels, Lou Billera, Bob Bland, Mike Stillman, Mike Todd, Les Trotter, Bob Connelly, David Williamson, David Shmoys, David Heat, Moss Sweedler, John Guckenheimer and many others who influenced me).