CLEMSON — Clemson University assistant professor Ben Jaye recently won a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Early Career Development award — the first member of the College of Science’s school of mathematical and statistical sciences to receive this award.

Jaye will use $400,000 in NSF research funds to understand how some fundamental physical objects interact with fractal structures. A mathematical construct, fractals are complex objects comprised of a pattern that repeats itself at different scales. Jaye’s project is titled “Analysis of operators on rough sets.”

Professor Ben Jaye sitting at his desk

Benjamin Jaye, mathematical and statistical sciences faculty member, received a 2019 NSF CAREER award.

“The primary goal of my research is to develop a systemic way of studying these interactions,” said Jaye, noting that fractals play an important role in image compression. “So my work is about distinguishing between a mess of data and data lying in a nice region.”

If given a set of data, Jaye aims to distinguish when it’s rough, meaning it’s fractal, or when it’s non-rough, meaning it’s a simpler shape that can be parameterized by some lower dimensional set.

A second part of his research will study signals whose frequencies behave like fractals, determining the extent to which signals can be reconstructed from a small set of values.

“Ben’s selection for this award demonstrates that he is an emerging leader in his field of research, and we are very proud of this accomplishment,” said Kevin James, professor and interim director of Clemson’s School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences.

In addition to the research, NSF CAREER awards have an educational component. Jaye will organize an annual regional mathematics-related undergraduate research symposium that will launch in the fall of 2020. The symposium will bring undergraduates from more than a dozen universities to the Clemson campus to present their research and learn about graduate research opportunities in mathematics.

Although he’s the first Clemson mathematics professor to earn a CAREER award, Jaye predicts he won’t be the last. “Our junior faculty are really exceptional and our school is doing a good job of encouraging people to apply,” Jaye said. “I certainly think that there are many colleagues of mine who have amazing chances of getting this award, as well.”