The Friedman Prize

The Center for Advanced Studies in Mathematics and the Department of Mathematics at BGU award the Friedman prize to graduate students with outstanding thesis work.

Dr. Yossi Friedman, son of Mina and the late Asher Friedman, was born and educated in Beer Sheva. He started his studies at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science (at the time a single department) at Ben Gurion University as a young school boy (see below his description of the experience) where he received his B.Sc. degree with high honours. He then went on to receive his Ph.D. degree in Computer Science at Stanford University in California. Upon graduation he was approached by investment companies and since the mid 1990’s he has been working in this capacity. He is now a partner in Millenium partners, a well-known New York investment company.

Dr. Friedman has contributed to the Center of Advanced Studies in Mathematics at Ben Gurion University, and part of his donation is directed towards an annual prize for outstanding graduate students in the Mathematics department.

Here are Dr. Friedman’s words at the Friedman prize ceremony of April 30, 2007:

The expression “Girsa Dyankuta” comes from Aramaic, and literally means the things that a person learned in his childhood. The deeper meaning of the expression is that the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding that a person absorbs as a child are deeply impressed on his soul and accompany him for life. Ben-Gurion University is my “Girsa Dyankuta”. When I was born in Beer-Sheva, at the Soroka Medical Center, across from the hospital was a large sandy lot peppered with thorns. At that time, Ben-Gurion University was scattered around several locations, and only several years later were the first buildings erected on the site where the campus is today.

When I was in the fourth grade, about nine or ten years of age, I underwent achievement tests, along with many of the schoolchildren of Beer-Sheva, and my parents received a letter stating that, as an “above-average” pupil, I was invited to participate in special enrichment courses for schoolchildren at the university. I knew these courses were worthwhile, because my sister, who is four years older than I, had been invited to participate in them several years earlier and had been very excited about them. And, like everything else that my sister did, I wanted to do the same. She was interested in the life sciences. I was afraid of blood, so I chose the computer course. At the time this course seemed futuristic and fascinating, like Jules Verne’s science fiction.

When I arrived at the course, in the computation center, which contained only one computer that required special climactic conditions, it seemed even more fantastic than science fiction. We, the pupils in the course, ran around the center, mingling with the university students, not just on the days of the course, but every day. There was ten-year-old Dror, who came every day by himself from the town of Kiryat Gat on the bus, and later became a professor at Harvard. There was Victor, the new immigrant from the Soviet Union, and me, and other “computer freaks” like us.

The university loved us, the little “freaks”, and allowed us to come and go as we pleased. It gave us computer time and access to lecturers and researchers, and helped us to develop intellectual curiosity and to look for solutions. So much so, that on several occasions my Dad had to come to the computation center to get me at midnight, wearing a sweater over his pajamas, because I’d lost track of time.

When I began high school, it was the Department of Mathematics and Computer Sciences that offered me a chance to take courses as a regular university student while I was still a high school pupil. There were teachers at my high school who were not pleased with this, and who saw it as a personal insult to them, and the university came through by allowing me to be absent from lectures that overlapped with these teachers’ lessons.

And so it happened that shortly after I matriculated from high school, I received my bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Sciences. With the recommendation of my lecturers at BGU, I was accepted into a PhD program at Stanford University, and with the “Girsa Dyankuta” from BGU, I became a partner in an investment firm in New York. I live in a beautiful apartment and enjoy a good life. But I always remember the “incubator” of my ambitions and their fulfillmen — where they believed in me and treated me like an intelligent adult when I was still a small child. That is my “Girsa Dyankuta”, and probably that of many others as well.

Prize Winners

2003

  • Dr. Guy Cohen, for his Ph.D. thesis: Parameter Estimation of Random Fields, under the supervision of Prof. Michael Lin and Prof. Yossi Francos.
  • Dr. Yossi Moshe, for his Ph.D thesis on Combinatial Number Theory, under the supervision of Prof. Danny Berend.

2004

  • Dr. Victoria Lubich, for her Ph.D. thesis: The Application of Shelah's PCF Theory to General Topological Properties, under the supervision of Prof. Menahem Kojman.
  • Dr. Viatcheslav Bikov, for his Ph.D. thesis: Problems of Applied Mathematics and Their Application to Combustion Theory, under the supervision of Prof. Vladimir Goldstein.

2005

  • Mr. Andrey Melnikov, for his M.Sc. thesis: Overdetermined 2D systems invariant in one direction and their transfer functions, under the supervision of Prof. Victor Vinnikov.

2006

  • Mr. Noam Solomon, for his M.Sc. thesis: Elliptic $p$-adic polylogarithms and arithmetic applications under the supervision of Prof. Amnon Besser.

2007

  • Mr. Ilya Goldstein, for his M.Sc. thesis: Group Substitutions under the supervision of Prof. Daniel Berend.

2008

  • Mr. Lior Fishman, for his M.Sc. thesis: Schmidt's Game and the Intersection of Badly Approximable Linear Forms with Fractals prepared under the supervision of Prof. Barak Weiss.

2009

  • Dr. Yonah Maissel, for his Ph.D. thesis: Locally Moving Groups and Reconstruction Problems prepared under the supervision of Prof. Matti Rubin.

2011

  • Dr. Edmund Ben-Ami, for his Ph.D. thesis Locally moving groups and reconstruction problems prepared under the supervision of Prof. Matti Rubin.

2012

  • Dr. Liran Shaul, for his Ph.D. thesis Rigid Dualizing Complexes Over Complete Commutative Rings prepared under the supervision of Prof. Amnon Yekutieli.