Grad Student Profile: Dmitriy Morozov

From the Fall 2007 issue of Threads

Dmitriy Morozov

While attending high school in Russia, Dmitriy Morozov got himself a ticket to the U.S. by winning a fellowship under the Freedom Support Act Future Leaders Exchange Program. In 1998 he moved from Snezhinsk in the southern reaches of the Ural which separates Europe from Asia, to Asheboro, North Carolina, where he finished his last year of high school. He then spent two years at Guilford Technical Community College and transferred to North Carolina State University in Raleigh where he did a double major in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. Before reaching the legal drinking age, he joined the Department of Computer Science at Duke University in 2003.

At NCSU he worked with Larry Norris and Erich Kaltofen in Mathematics. This latter association apparently left a positive impression since Morozov opted to continue his research combining computer science and mathematics under the direction of Professor Herbert Edelsbrunner at Duke. The Austria connection clearly shows itself as a thread in Morozov’s life. Right from the start, Morozov showed unmistaken signs of creativity and depth and a love for research. A notable early result was a cubic lower bound for the running-time of the persistent homology algorithm. This explains why the efforts of others in proving that this algorithm is faster in the worst case failed in spite of the apparent almost linear behavior observed in practice. Morozov stayed with the topic of persistent homology: a central theme in the emerging discipline of computational topology. He spent the summer of 2005 working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and this was the year of two breakthrough results for him, the vineyard algorithm that computes topological lifelines in linear time per transposition, and the proof that functions on 2-manifolds can be simplified in a way that strictly preserves high-persistence features. He presented both results at the 2006 Symposium on Computational Geometry in Sedona, Arizona. These achievements are important stepping stones for the challenges of reconstructing stratified spaces from point samples, one of Morozov’s current pet projects.

Morozov finds that “distinguished faculty, energetic peers, an inspiring mentor, and the cohesiveness of the Department have made it a superb research environment.” Morozov thrives on academic excellence and he finds time to contribute broadly in service, as witnessed by his 2004 Outstanding Teaching Assistantship Award, his 2005 Outstanding Departmental Service Award, and his election to the Executive Board of the Graduate and Professional Student Council at Duke. These are solid foundations for big things to come.

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