Math Professor Ingrid Daubechies Makes Waves with Research


Duke undergraduates know professor Ingrid Daubechies as an instructor of multivariable calculus, but beyond Duke, she has become famous for her study of wavelets, or mathematical functions with the ability to enhance image compression technology.


Daubechies, a Belgian James B. Duke professor of mathematics and electrical and computer engineering, came to Duke in 2010 after being on faculty at Princeton University, and she served as the first female president of the International Mathematical Union from 2011 to 2014. Daubechies’ work in applied mathematics is well-known, particularly in regard to the “Daubechies wavelets”—which are integral to the JPEG image compression format.


“Wavelets are a mathematical tool,” she explained. “They are like little elementary building blocks to expand images into.”