Author Archives: Stephanie Lai

Jack Dongarra Selected to Receive the 2020 IEEE Computer Society’s Computer Pioneer Award

Jack Dongarra

Jack Dongarra

Professor Jack Dongarra, a member of the Manchester Numerical Linear Algebra Group who also holds appointments at the University of Tennessee  and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been named as recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s 2020 Computer Pioneer Award.

The award is given for significant contributions to early concepts and developments in the electronic computer field that have clearly advanced the state-of-the-art in computing.  Dongarra is being recognized “for leadership in the area of high-performance mathematical software.”

Dongarra will receive his award at the Computer Society’s annual awards dinner and presentation to be held on Wednesday 27 May 2020 at the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner during the IEEE Computer Society Board of Governors meeting. The award consists of a silver medal and an invitation to speak at the award presentation.

This article is based on an IEEE news release. Further information about the award is available here.

Poster Successes at SIAM UKIE 2020 Section Meeting

Group photo at SIAM UKIE 2020

Group photo at SIAM UKIE 2020

Several members of the group attended the SIAM UKIE Section Meeting held at the University of Edinburgh on Friday January 10, 2020. Françoise Tisseur, President of the Section and one of the co-organizers, chaired the morning session.

PhD students Michael Connolly,  Xiaobo (Bob) Liu, Gian Maria Negri Porzio, and Research Associate Srikara Pranesh presented posters.

Congratulations to Sri and Michael, who won first and second best poster prizes, respectively:
a cheque for £75 to both and also a copy of the book /50 Visions of Mathematics/ to Sri.

Photo credit to Gian Maria Negri Porzio


Numerical Linear Algebra Group Activities 2019

The Numerical Linear Algebra Group had a busy year in 2019. This post summarizes what we got up to. Publications are not included here, but many of them can be found on MIMS EPrints under the category Numerical Analysis; see also these news stories about our publications.

Marcus Webb joined the group in September 2019 as Lecturer in Applied Mathematics.


Some of the group at the 2019 SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering.


We make our research codes available as open source, principally on GitHub; see the repositories of ConnollyFasiHighamLiuPraneshZounon.

We also put MATLAB software on MATLAB Central File Exchange and on our own web sites, e.g., the Rational Krylov Toolbox (RKToolbox).

PhD Students

Massimiliano Fasi successfully defended his PhD Computing Matrix Functions in Arbitrary Precision Arithmetic in May 2019.

Postdoctoral Research Associates (PDRAs)

Massimiliano Fasi joined us in April 2019 to work with Nick Higham on algorithms for high-performance numerical linear algebra.  He was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Pisa from November 2019 to January 2020.

Mantas Mikaitis joined us in October 2019 on a EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellowship, having just completed his PhD in the School of Computer Science.

Pierre Blanchard left the group in May 2019 and is now a Numerical Software Engineer at Arm.

Maksims Abalenkovs and Theo Mary left the group in September 2019. Maksims is now a Research Software Engineer with the Science and Technology Facilities Council and Theo is a CNRS researcher at LIP6 in Paris.


Stefan Güttel, Nick Higham and Françoise Tisseur were awarded a new 30-month KTP project with Arup.  See this news story.

Presentations at Conference and Workshops

Workshop on Scientific Computing and Optimization with Applications to Image and Data Analysis, Hong Kong Baptist University, January 12, 2019: Higham.
Due Giorni di Algebra Lineare Numerica, Sapienza University of Rome, February 18 – 19, 2019: Negri Porzio.
SIAM Conference Computational Science and Engineering (CSE19) in Spokane, USA, February 25 – March 1: Blanchard, Dongarra, Elsworth, Hammarling, Higham, Mary, Pranesh, Tisseur and Zounon.
Liverpool SIAM-IMA Student Chapter Early Career Researcher Conference, University of Liverpool, April 3-5, 2019: Higham.
Royal Society Meeting on Numerical Algorithms for High-Performance Computational Science, April 8 – 9: Blanchard, Fasi, Mary, Pranesh, Zounon.
The 12th International Conference on Numerical Optimization and Numerical Linear Algebra, Shangrao, Jiangxi, China, April 15-18, 2019: Higham.
2nd IMA and OR Society Conference on Mathematics of Operational Research,Birmingham, April 25-26, 2019: Riccietti.
Data-Centric Materials Science and Engineering. Microstructure Fingerprinting and Digital Twinning for Industry 4.0, University of Manchester, May 14-15, 2019: Higham.
Structured Matrix Days, Limoges, France, May 23 – 24, 2019: Mary.
Advances in Numerical Linear Algebra: Celebrating the Centenary of the Birth of James H. Wilkinson, May 29-30,2019: Blanchard, Dongarra, Fasi. Güttel, Hammarling, Higham, Lucas, Tisseur and Zounon. Highlights of the conference.
SIAM UKIE National Student Chapter Conference, University of Manchester, June 10-11, 2019: Fasi.
Gene Golub SIAM Summer School  at the Paul Langevin, Aussois, June 17-28, 2019: Rogers.
Summer School on Optimization, Big Data and Applications (OBA), Veroli, Italy, June 30 – July 6, 2019: Riccietti.
The International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM 2019), Valencia, Spain, July 15-19: Fasi, Güttel, Higham, Pranesh and Tisseur.
International Conference on Continuous Optimization (ICCOPT), Berlin, Germany, August 5-8, 2019: Riccietti.
Franco–German–Swiss (FGS) Conference on Optimization, Nice, France, September 17-20, 2019: Riccietti.
Model Order Reduction Summer School 2019, Academisch Genootschap, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, September 23-27, 2019: Higham.
Computational Science Engineering, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence by Total R&D (MATHIAS), Serris, France, October 14-17, 2019: Riccietti.

Conference and Workshop Organization

ANLA19 group photo

ANLA19 group photo 


Vanni Noferini listening to a question from Cleve Moler at ANLA19.


Rob Corless from University of Western Ontario visited the group in November 2019.

Recognition and Service

  • Françoise Tisseur delivered the Olga Taussky-Todd Lecture and Nick Higham was an invited speaker at the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) in Valencia, Spain, July 2019.
  • Jack Dongarra received the SIAM/ACM Prize in Computational Science and Engineering at the SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE19)
  • Jack Dongarra was elected as a Foreign Member of the Royal Society.
  • Françoise Tisseur was elected as SIAM UKIE Section President, 2019-20.
  • Steven Elsworth obtained a SIAM Student Travel Award to attend the 2019 SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE19) in Spokane, Washington.
  • Nick Higham received the London Mathematics Society’s Naylor Prize and Lectureship.
  • Nick Higham delivered the Feng Kang Distinguished Lecture at the Institute of Computational Mathematics and Scientific/Engineering Computing, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, in April 2019, and the LAA Lecture (formerly the Hans Schneider Lecture) in the Department of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, December 2019.

Other Notable Tweets

NLA Group Partnering with Arup on Next Generation Structural Engineering Software

KTP Arup.png

Dr Stefan Güttel, Professor Nick Higham, and Professor Françoise Tisseur have been awarded a new 30-month project with Arup, a multidisciplinary engineering firm operating in all areas of built environment.

This Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), funded by Arup and Innovate UK, aims to embed new matrix eigenvalue solvers into Arup’s next generation software for structural engineering simulation.

The Numerical Linear Algebra  (NLA) group team will be working with Dr Stephen Hendry and Dr Ramaseshan Kannan of Arup, along with a KTP Associate, for which the position is advertised here.

The project builds on a long history of collaboration between Arup and the NLA Group, which has  previously led to the development of “model stability analysis” in Arup’s flagship structural engineering simulation package, Oasys GSA (see the paper What is Your Structural Model Not Telling You?).

Low Precision Floating-Point Formats: The Wild West of Computer Arithmetic

The November 2019 edition of SIAM News contains an article by Research Associate Srikara Pranesh about the growing importance of low precision floating-point arithmetic. Sri describes the opportunities provided by recent hardware and explains how new algorithms are being derived to exploit low precision arithmetic.  To read the article click the image below.

Also see Sri’s recent blog post Simulating Low Precision Floating-Point Arithmetics.


Nick Higham Delivers Invited Talk at the ICIAM Congress in Valencia

Nick Higham - ICIAM

Photo provided by @ICIAMnews

Professor Nick Higham delivered an invited talk at the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM) on July 19, 2019, in Valencia, Spain. His talk “Exploiting Low Precision Arithmetic in the Solution of Linear Systems” reported work by Higham and his colleagues over the last three years to use the fast half precision arithmetic available on accelerators such as GPUs to speed up the solution of linear systems.  A video of the talk is available here and the slides are available here.

The talk was summarized in the Friday 19th July edition of the ICIAM2019 newsletter:

“Nick Higham (University of Manchester) advocated in his invited lecture using arithmetics of different precision at different stages of computations in order to design algorithms that are faster, require less communications and consume less energy. The main motivation is that last-generation GPUs may be up to eight times faster when they perform arithmetic operations in half precision than when they do in single precision.

The general philosophy is doing the bulk of the computations in half precision, and then perform some kind of clean-up refinement of the solution in higher precisions. As an archetypal example to illustrate this line of thought Higham chose how to accelerate the solution of linear systems via Gaussian elimination. He showed that if the LU factorization is computed in half precision, followed by iterative refinement using a mix of half, double and quadruple precision, the solution can be sped up significantly without accuracy loss. This works in principle for systems with moderate condition number, but even ill-conditioned systems can be dealt with by performing the iterative refinement via GMRES on a suitably pre-conditioned system.”

Nick Higham - ICIAMNick Higham - ICIAM

Nick Higham - ICIAM

Photo credit Françoise Tisseur

Massimiliano Fasi awarded PhD

Congratulations to Massimiliano Fasi for being awarded his PhD, which was supervised by Nick Higham. We asked him a few questions about his thesis, title Computing Matrix Functions in Arbitrary Precision Arithmetic.

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your experience before attending University of Manchester?
I was born in Assisi, a smallish town in central Italy chiefly known for having been home to Saint Francis. I thought I would become a philologist, and during my teen years I studied mostly linguistics and ancient languages, while taking plenty of courses at the local music conservatory. After much pondering, I decided to start my university career with a scientific discipline and I chose computer science. I found that I really enjoyed the subject, and after graduating from the University of Perugia I pursued a Master’s degree at the University of Bologna and, at the same time, one at the École Normale Supérieure of Lyon.

What is your thesis on?
My thesis investigates the computation of matrix functions in arbitrary precision arithmetic, and is in fact a collection of results that are somewhat connected to this topic. We started by revisiting several well-known techniques for two very general problems: the evaluation of rational functions at a matrix argument and the solution of rational matrix equations. We developed new numerical methods and provided some theoretical insights, and used these as building blocks to design multiprecision algorithms to evaluate matrix functions that are of interest in applications. We focused mainly on the matrix exponential and the matrix logarithm, but the machinery we developed is more general and can be used for a much broader range of problems.

Why did you choose to study your PhD in Manchester?
Numerical analysis was my favourite module as an undergraduate student. I decided to do an internship with the lecturer teaching that course, and the subject happened to be the matrix Lambert W function. I’ve been interested in matrix functions ever since, and when the time came to choose where to do a PhD, I thought that it would be great to join the strongest linear algebra group I was aware of. I was lucky enough to be admitted at The University of Manchester, where I could do research with Professor Nick Higham, who is a leading expert in this field.

How did you find Manchester?
Manchester is a lively city and is well connected to the rest of the world. The postgraduate community I was part of is very dynamic, and somewhat larger than I was used to. A PhD can be rather difficult at times, but the many people I had the chance to meet here made my Mancunian experience unforgettable.

What’s your next step?
My long-term plan is to remain in academia, and I will try to follow the path that leads to a permanent position. For the moment, I am a research associate in the group here in Manchester, and am trying my best to deepen my understanding of the current trends in numerical linear algebra.


Massimiliano Fasi



Nick Higham awarded the LMS Naylor Prize and Lectureship

Professor Nick Higham has been awarded the London Mathematics Society’s Naylor Prize and Lectureship for his leadership in numerical linear algebra, numerical stability analysis, and communication of mathematics.

The Naylor Prize and Lectureship is awarded every two years in memory of Dr V. D. Naylor. The grounds for the award may include work in, and influence on, and contributions to applied mathematics and/or the applications of mathematics, and lecturing gifts.

The full prize citation is available here.

Higham, Nicholas FRS, 2015 DSC_3580 ed_cropped

Highlights of Advances in Numerical Linear Algebra Conference

by Sven Hammarling, Nick Higham and Françoise Tisseur

The conference Advances in Numerical Linear Algebra: Celebrating the Centenary of the Birth of James H. Wilkinson, took place at the University of Manchester, May 29-30, 2019.  The purpose of the conference was to discuss recent developments and future challenges in numerical linear algebra and to celebrate the centenary of the birth of James H. Wilkinson FRS (1919-1986).

The 60 attendees heard reminiscences about Wilkinson and his work from several attendees who knew him.  Sven Hammarling opened the proceedings with personal reflections on Wilkinson. Margaret Wright discussed some of the treasures in lecture notes from courses that Wilkinson taught at Stanford University (1977-1982). We have recently added these notes to our Wilkinson web page. Nick Higham announced the availability of the Argonne tapes, which are videos of Wilkinson and Cleve Moler lecturing at an Eigensystem Workshop held at Argonne National Laboratory, Illinois, USA, in June 1973.

We were pleased to welcome two of Jim Wilkinson’s nephews, John Liebman and Danny Liebman, together with John’s wife Liz.

Attendees were able to wish speaker Cleve Moler a happy 80th birthday and share two birthday cakes with him.

Photos from the conference appear below. Click on a photo to enlarge it.

Slides of the talks are available at the conference web page. The first day’s lectures were professionally videoed and the videos are available on the NLA group’s YouTube channel: here is a link to the playlist.

Thank you to all the speakers and attendees for their participation.

We gratefully acknowledge sponsorship from the Royal Society, The Alan Turing Institute, The QJMAM Fund for Applied Mathematics, The Numerical Algorithm Group and National Physical Laboratory.


Our Alumni – Pythagoras Papadimitriou

In this blog post, we asked one of our alumni, Pythagoras Papadimitriou, a few questions about his time with the Numerical Linear Algebra Group.
Pythagoras Papadimitriou

Please can you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about your experience before attending University of Manchester?

I was born in Athens and grew up there.  I studied Mathematics (B.Sc.) at Athens University. Then I did my national service and I moved to Manchester in September 1990 to attend the M.Sc. course “Numerical Analysis & Computing” at Manchester University.

What was your PhD thesis on?

The title of my Ph.D. is “Parallel Solution of SVD-Related Problems, with Applications”. The main part of my research dealt with the development of parallel algorithms for computing the Singular Value Decomposition and the Polar Decomposition. The algorithms were designed for the particular architecture of the KSR1, which was a virtual shared-memory parallel computer, a leading-edge parallel computer technology of the 90s.

Why did you choose to study your PhD in Manchester?

My initial plan was to complete my M.Sc. and work in industry. But when Nick Higham asked me to do a Ph.D. with him with a scholarship from S.E.R.C. I did not think twice. I am very proud that Nick was my supervisor.

How did you find Manchester?

It was an invaluable experience, three wonderful years. I made good friends and I am still in touch with most of them. When I left Manchester in October 1993 I took only good memories with me, including some of the best moments in my life. They say that Manchester has changed and the city is more beautiful now. I hope my sons will have the opportunity to study in Manchester.

Can you tell us about your career since leaving Manchester?

I joined the IT industry as a software engineer a few days after the submission of my Ph.D. thesis in October 1993. My first employer was a start-up in Greece. I joined Intrasoft SA, the then largest Systems Integrator in southeast Europe, in 1995. At Intrasoft SA, I moved from SW Development to Project Management in 1997 and to Sales in 1999. I joined Nortel Networks in Athens in January 2001 as Sales Director for Greece and Cyprus. A dream came true in October 2005 when I joined Sun Microsystems, a company that I admired from my Manchester days when I used Sun Unix workstations for carrying out my research. I headed the SW Business Unit of Sun Microsystems for 5 years, being responsible for a huge geography, from Saint Petersburg to Cape Town and from Vienna to Vladivostok! In January 2011 I joined HP in Athens as Managing Director. I moved to Vienna in September 2014 to join Oracle as Senior Sales Director responsible for Central Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and Central Asia. Today my organisation is responsible for the Systems partners of Oracle in this region plus in Italy, France and Iberia.

What is your current role?

I head the Systems Alliance and Channel organisation of Oracle for Italy, France, Iberia, Central Eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey and Central Asia. We are responsible for driving with our channel partners (Value Added Distributors, Value Added Resellers, Systems Integrators and Independent Software Vendors) the hardware business of Oracle in this region.

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