University of San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The University of San Diego announced Thursday that its math department received a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research.

According to the university, the grant will support research into “the theoretical foundations of computer programming that helps mathematicians verify their work by checking mathematical proofs, and therefore, provides confidence in the correctness of a theory.”

Funding could be extended to $7.5 million over three years if the DOD funds the entire program, university officials said.

“With the increasing importance of mathematics and computers in our daily lives, as well as the defense of our country, it’s essential to ensure the correctness of proofs and software,” said Michael Shulman, the USD associate professor of mathematics who applied for the grant.

“Our project uses the mathematics of shape and deformation to create new programming languages for this purpose that are more intuitive and easier to use, and gives student researchers the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a new kind of mathematics,” he said.

The project began last month and will continue through 2024, with an option for an additional two years of research.

Shulman will collaborate with Carnegie Mellon University, Wesleyan University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Minnesota.

The funding also will support 13 USD student fellowships.

“This grant from the DOD’s Air Force Office of Scientific Research is an incredible opportunity for Dr. Shulman to expand on work in the mathematics field that can benefit our military,” said Noelle Norton, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This is also an invaluable experience for our student researchers who will get hands-on experience and develop mathematical insight that will help our community near and far as we continue to serve as an anchor institution.”

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