2007 EMET Prize Laureate – Exact Sciences
Prof. Micha Sharir is awarded the EMET Prize for his pioneering work in computational geometry and its applications and for his fundamental contributions in the fields of Algorithmic Motion Planning in Robotics and Discrete Geometry.
Prof. Micha Sharir was born in Tel-Aviv in 1950. As a high-school student he won first prizes in the Mathematics Youth Olympics of the Weizmann Institute and in the Technion’s Grossman Contest in Mathematics. In 1970 he completed his B.Sc. in Mathematics at the Tel-Aviv University. He later served in the Intelligence Corps where he was part of a research team that won The Security of Israel Award. During his military service he completed his M.Sc. and PhD (1976) in Pure Mathematics at the Tel-Aviv University.
Following his military service he decided to specialize in computer science and received his training at the New-York University. In 1980 he joined the staff of the School of Computer Science at the Tel-Aviv University as senior lecturer, and in 1985 he was appointed full professor. In the early 1980s, together with Prof. Jacob Schwartz who was his supervisor in New-York, he laid the foundations for a new research field – Algorithmic Motion Planning in Robotics. The theory was introduced in a series of articles about the “Piano Movers”. He served as deputy director of the Robotics Lab in New York for four years. As a result of this research he started the study of Computational Geometry – a field that was then in its infancy. It combines theoretical research of the mathematical elements of algorithms in solving problems of a geometric nature and of geometric structures, with the application of these algorithms to a variety of fields such as robotics, bioinformatics and computer graphics. Over the years he has gained a reputation as one of the leading scientists in the field. His studies have yielded basic results and many breakthroughs that have shaped the field and promoted knowledge of it.
He holds the The Isaias Nizri Chair in Computational Geometry and Robotics, and served two terms as Head of the School of Computer Science and Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences. He was also a member in many committees, and has been editing some of the leading journals in the field. Over the years he has published ca. 275 articles in scientific journals, and in 1995 a book was published in which his research is summarized. He has supervised almost 20 PhD students and a similar number of M.Sc. students. Most of his former students now hold academic posts, both in Israel and abroad.
His studies won him many prizes, including the Max Planck Research Award (1992), and an honorary doctorate by the Utrecht University (1996). In 1997 he was elected as fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and received the Feher Prize in Computer Science (1999) and the Landau Prize for Science and Research (2002).