Alex Pothen is a Professor of Computer Science at Purdue, where he has been since August 2008.
Alex was born in Munnar, a beautiful hill station in Kerala, India.
He attended the Sainik School, Trivandrum from fifth to eleventh grades, and received
a five-year Master's degree in Chemistry from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi
in 1978. He received his PhD in Applied Mathematics from Cornell in 1984.
Alex Pothen has led the effort to organize the CSC research community in the early 2000's. He was Co-Chair of the first three international workshops in CSC, and serves as the Chair of the CSC Steering Committee. He serves as an Editor of the Journal of the ACM (Scientific and High Performance Computing area), Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Books, SIAM Review, SIAM Monographs in CSE, and the International Journal of CSE. He has served as an editor of the SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing, and the Electronic Transactions on Numerical Analysis.
Alex has contributed to several areas in CSE.
In Combinatorial Scientific Computing, he has worked on graph matching and matroid theory (sparse bases for the null space, block triangular forms, Dulmage-Mendelsohn decomposition, approximation algorithms for weighted matching and edge covers); spectral graph partitioning and locality inducing orderings; reordering chordal graphs for parallel matrix factorizations; partitioning chordal graphs into transitively closed subgraphs for Product Form Inverse representations of triangular matrix factors; etc.
In Automatic Differentiation, Alex and his colleagues have developed new formulations and algorithms to color graphs (distance-2 coloring, acyclic coloring, star coloring, and variants). These algorithms make feasible the computation of large, sparse Jacobian and Hessian matrices at a small overhead cost over the computation of the functions involved. Recently they have also developed fast algorithms for Hessian and higher order derivative computations via a Live Variables Approach to the Reverse Mode of AD.
In Bioinformatics, Alex is developing algorithms for registering and classifying cell populations in Flow Cytometry data to understand the immune system. He has also developed algorithms for identifying functional modules in protein interaction networks, and for identifying biomarkers for lung and prostate cancer from mass spectral data.
Alex has mentored sixteen PhD students, six post-doctoral scientists, more than sixty Master's students, and several undergraduate researchers. His advisees hold (or have held) appointments at Washington State University, Penn State, Waterloo, Australian National University, and Drexel; Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Conviva Corporation; and Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Pacific Northwest National Lab, Argonne National Lab, etc.
Alex served as the Director of the Combinatorial Scientific Computing and Petascale Simulations (CSCAPES) Institute, a pioneering research project in CSC funded by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science from 2006-2012. The CSCAPES Institute involved thirty researchers from Purdue, Old Dominion University, Sandia National Labs, Argonne National Lab, Ohio State, and Colorado State. CSCAPES researchers developed computational tools in CSC that enable large-scale computational models in science and engineering on peta-scale computers. These tools included parallelization and load-balancing software, Automatic Differentiation technology, parallel graph and sparse matrix algorithms, and transformations to improve the memory system performance of sparse computations.
Alex has been honored as the most inspiring teacher by both undergraduates and graduate students. He has received the Director's Silver Medal and a Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, the National Science Talent Scholarship (India), and an IBM University Research award. His thesis and papers with students have received honors in several best paper competitions: Householder, SIAM Linear Algebra Activity Group Prize, best paper competition and Student Research competition at Supercomputing, Homeyer Prize, best poster prize at the CYTO conference (Annual Conference in Flow Cytometry), etc.
Alex and his wife Madhubala Bobbie (nee Londhe) have four adult children. Dr. Joshua Pothen (PhD 2016) is working on an MD-PhD degree at the University of Vermont in Burlington; Josiah James is a sofware engineer for the New York Times; Dr. Jewel Maria Cary (DVM, Purdue) is pursuing a PhD in Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Tech; and John is doing his MD-PhD at Emory University.