William W. Symes

Noah Harding Professor, Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics,
and Professor, Department of Earth Science, Rice University
Partial Differential Equations, Wave Propagation, Computational Seismology, Software Engineering

University of California at Berkeley B. A. (1971)
Harvard University Ph. D. (1975)

Before joining the Rice Faculty in 1983, Professor Symes taught at Michigan State University. He has held visiting positions at the University of British Columbia, the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Cornell University, and the Universite de Paris IX.

His current research interests center around the relation between the coefficients of linear partial differential equations and their solutions, and on so-called inverse problems posed in terms of this relation. Inverse problems for PDEs governing wave propagation are important in seismology, where the solutions represent measurable physical fields and the coefficients mostly inaccessible distributions of mechanical properties in the Earth's subsurface.

Both modeling and inversion are of great importance in seismic exploration for oil and gas as well as in environmental and engineering geophysics, crustal studies, and ocean acoustics. Professor Symes's recent work has concentrated on velocity estimation, i.e., inference of the index of refraction of the earth's interior from seismic waves recorded at the surface. To further investigation of such problems in an industrial context, Professor Symes founded The Rice Inversion Project in 1992. This industrial research consortium is sponsored by a number of firms in the oil and computer industries. Its activities encompass theoretical investigations, development of algorithms and software, and experimentation with field data.

William W. Symes
Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics
Rice University
Houston, TX 77005
Phone: 713-348-5997
Fax: 713-348-5318

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