Ingrid Daubechies

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The mathematician that revolutionized digital cinema

Ingrid Daubechies is originally a physicist, born in Belgium in 1954.

Her father, a mining engineer, always encouraged her to continue developing her interest in science. She always liked mathematics since studying it at school; however, she studied to be physicist and devoted herself to the development of new mathematics for theoretical physics and applications in engineering.

Ingrid Daubechies liked to devise new approaches to solve mathematical problems. One of her major contributions is the wavelet theory, without which detecting gravitational waves would have been impossible and imagining diagnosis would be much slower. There would also be no digital cinema as we know it, no DVDs, no Netflix and no live football matches in high resolution. Her theory has many other applications in our daily life, such as in the prevention of earthquakes or tumours, in the study of meteorology, DNA or blood analysis.

The Daubechies Wavelet is the basis of the JPEG 2000 image compression system. "High compression standard JPEG images look terrible. On the other hand, with JPEG 2000 images are degraded with much more grace.” For this reason, it is ideal for transferring large amounts of visual information without losing quality; It is the basis of the digital cinema.

Daubechies has received many awards, among them the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics and the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge in Basic Sciences Prize. She was also the first female president of the International Mathematical Union.

She currently works as a professor at the University of Princeton.

«I love to see why mathematical things were true, like the fact that a number is divisible by nine if, when you add all its digits together, you get another number divisible by 9.»