The rank of distinguished professor, the most prestigious academic appointment Indiana University can bestow upon its faculty, was created by the IU Board of Trustees in 1967. The title is conferred by the university president with approval of the board.
Nets H. Katz, professor of mathematics
A college graduate at age 17, a Ph.D. recipient three years later and currently Indiana University's latest Guggenheim fellow, Katz is considered one of the world's leading researchers in the field of combinatorics, the study of finite or countable discrete structures. The field influences other areas of research in computer science, drug discovery and robotics.
Within a year Katz , working with others, advanced the cap set problem in additive combinatorics and also resolved a 65-year-old problem -- the Erdös distance problem -- in combinatorial geometry that sought to determine the minimum number of distinct distances between any finite set of points in a plane. The Department of Mathematics is in the College of Arts and Sciences.
A past winner of the Fields Medal said Katz (B.S., '90, Rice University; Ph.D., '93, University of Pennsylvania) has had a major impact on the field in several different areas, from harmonic analysis and geometric measure theory to arithmetic combinatorics and analysis of partial differential equations.
"He is an independent and original thinker and has shown the ability to come up with new, interesting ideas in different areas of mainstream research and leave a mark," the Fields Medal winner said. "Several of his papers had unexpected impacts and turned out to be influential in much wider circles."