Shira Tanny’s Zuckerman scholarship supplements a generous Rothschild Postdoctoral Fellowship, only the latest in a series of awards recognizing her work. She is interested in symplectic geometry, a field of pure mathematics that emerged from classical mechanics. In this field, one considers a special kind of geometric space having the property that in local coordinates near each point, half of the variables play the role of “position coordinates” and the rest are “momentum coordinates.”
Dr. Tanny is attracted to symplectic geometry because it is diverse, using tools from several areas of mathematics such as algebraic geometry and topology, functional analysis, and dynamical systems. It also has relations to physical fields such as quantum mechanics and control theory.
Her doctoral work, at Tel Aviv University in the Department of Mathematics, made a substantial contribution to the study of a well-known operation on functions coming from physics called ‘’the Poisson bracket.”
Dr. Tanny sees her postdoc in the School of Mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Research at Princeton as a great opportunity to collaborate with leading experts from related fields, and to learn about sub-fields of symplectic geometry that are studied outside of Israel. Among other directions for future work, she hopes to derive new applications of symplectic geometry to control theory, by relating a well-studied Poisson bracket invariant to the control distance, which measures the minimal time it takes a system to get from one state to another.
Growing up herself in a disadvantaged community in Israel where her high school had no physics and only basic-level mathematics classes, Dr. Tanny has chosen to volunteer in several programs aiming to provide mathematical education for underserved students, including teaching high school mathematics at the Arabic ORT School for Science and Engineering in the city of Lod.