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International Chair

Charlotte Renauld - 27/06/2017

Project-team Gamma3 welcomes David Marcum

David Marcum, Professor at Mississippi State University (MSU), has been hired by Inria Saclay – Île-de-France research center within the framework of the International Chair Program. David Marcum joined the center in the beginning of May 2017 to strengthen his collaboration with Gamma3 project-team and work on "Unstructured Mesh Generation".

Inria is keen to encourage long stays – several weeks to a year – by eminent international researchers in its project-teams and give them better visibility, by defining an "Inria  International Chair" program covering 12 months spread over 5 years. The project-team Gamma3 have been collaborating with David Marcum since 2011 and welcomed him under the International Chair Program in May 2017 and he will return again in September 2017.

Researcher, professor, director 

David Marcum started his career in Industry, working with companies such as Boeing and Mc Donnell Douglas. He joined MSU in 1991 as a researcher and a professor : “I very much enjoy  the academic life at MSU where they have a large center that is dedicated to numerical work  with computers and is in some respects much like Inria,” explains David Marcum. “I became  director of the center which grew very large. But 8 years ago, I had enough of administrative management and wanted to go back to the research.” 

Modelling real life

David Marcum works on numerical simulation of fluid physics to approximate what is  unsolvable by equations : “We choose to approach scientific problems from their  end application meaning: “what will make this as needed?”. A little bit like an engineering approach: I need to make something behave a certain way so I need to figure out the physics and mathematics of how and why it does so. We call that the driver for the science. The science that we look at is driven and needed by some end good. In our case, it is a simulation of physical behaviors that cannot be solved directly by mathematics but can be approximated by numerical simulation.”

Getting far more done

“We are all not experts in every aspect of what we do, other people throughout the world may be far better at some of those, so by  collaboration you can form an entity much more  knowledgeable.” In the early 1990’s, David Marcum heard about Paul Louis George’s work: “We both developed essentially competing technologies at the right time in our areas. And they both became very successful software. We kind of parallel each other. Then, in the 2000’s I became aware of the work that Frederic Alauzet has been doing in new areas and we talked about how we should do something together. But there was a little bit of  apprehension because we did very similar things.”  In 2010, Frederic Alauzet and David Marcum came up with a concept that they could jointly  work on, using the strengths of both parties. “I came to France during the summer in 2011,  Frederic came to the USA for a year in 2013. We have collaborated very heavily and published papers since that time. Together we can produce something better than each of us on our own.”

The International Chair Program

“We became aware after discussion with the director of Inria Saclay – Île-de-France center of the International Chair program so I applied. That fits with what we were going to do quite well: working side by side to get far more done than being several thousand miles apart. I see the International Chair as one way to formalize, particularly to my institution, our  collaboration.” David Marcum has been collaborating with the Gamma3 project-team for  many years, the International Chair will help them continue and maybe initiate other  successful collaborations. “An overall research program needs to prove it is successful.  Companies won’t use your technology just because you wrote a great paper or you’re brilliant, they will only use it if it produces something good for them that they can’t get from somewhere else. And there are technical companies all around here, in Saclay!”  On both sides, the International Chair Program gives them more exposure and provides another stamp of approval that recognizes their work.

Keywords: Mesh generation David Marcum INRIA Saclay - Île-de-France Gamma3