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Mathematical Research Honored with 2022 Mary P. Dolciani Award

WASHINGTON, DC (July 28, 2022) – Each year, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) honors teachers who impact and improve STEM education with the Mary P. Dolciani Award. We are pleased to announce the 2022 Dolciani Award recipient Roger E. Howe.

Mary P. Dolciani Award

The Mary P. Dolciani Award recognizes a pure or applied mathematician who is making a distinguished and active contribution to the mathematical education of K-16 students in the United States or Canada. 

About This Year’s Recipient

Dr. Roger E. Howe earned a BA in mathematics from Harvard College in 1966 and three years later a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley. For more than 50 years, Howe has made important contributions to mathematics and to mathematics education, at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, Yale University, and Texas A&M University. He has also held visiting positions at 21 universities and research institutes. In recognition of his many achievements, Howe has been named a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Advancement of Science, a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (AMS), and an Elected Member of the National Academy of Science, the American Association of Arts and Sciences, and the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.

He has also received the Lester R. Ford Award from the MAA and the AMS Award for Distinguished Public Service. As a research mathematician, Roger Howe has made fundamental contributions to representation theory, a field with deep connections to harmonic analysis, number theory, automorphic forms, and mathematical physics. Among his contributions is the introduction of the notion of “reductive dual pair” which is also called the “Howe pair.”Howe’s Mary P. Dolciani nomination summaries his contributions to mathematics education as follows: “Roger Howe’s work in mathematics education combines his broad knowledge and deep insight in mathematics with his substantial and collaborative engagement with all aspects of the education enterprise—classroom practice, teacher education, curriculum and standards, assessment, education research, and international comparisons—and at all levels, K–16.

This work has been expressed in two modes: active membership in much influential policy and advisory groups, both national and international; and through a series of profound essays on the mathematical nature of early mathematics learning. In 1997, he received the Yale College Dylan Hixon ’88 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Natural Sciences. The award presentation included the statement: “If mathematics is a language, you certainly speak it beautifully. Fortunately, for those who are not themselves native speakers, you have demonstrated a gift for making fundamental concepts in the structure of mathematics become familiar and intelligible.” Howe’s interest in undergraduate mathematics teaching also led to his 2007 geometry textbook with William Barker (Bowdoin College): “Continuous symmetry: From Euclid to Klein.”Howe’s initial involvement with K–12 mathematics education was through policy and committee work. 

He was a member of the NRC Mathematical Sciences Education Board (1995–98); chair in 1998 of the AMS Consultative Committee to the NCTM mathematics standards revision; member of the Steering Committee for The Mathematical Education of Teachers report (1998–2001); member of the NRC Study MAA Awards and Prizes August 2022. In addition to his many service contributions and his involvement in writing influential publications to guide mathematics education in the U.S., Howe has contributed a deep and nuanced understanding of the mathematical foundations of early school mathematics, with a special focus on place value. His thoughts about the amazing power of place value notation are found in an editorial he wrote in 2011 for the ICMINews titled “The greatest calamity in the history of science.”

The title references a comment of Gauss that Howe is fond of quoting: “The greatest calamity in the history of science was the failure of Archimedes' invent positional notation.” Among Howe’s many other insightful essays, are: “The three pillars of first-grade mathematics”, on the taxonomy of early computational tasks, the design of corresponding word problems, and connecting counting number with measurement number, along with using the addition facts to also begin the study of base ten structure; “From arithmetic to algebra”, which represents algebra organically as generalized arithmetic; and “The Most Important Thing for Your Child to Learn about Arithmetic,” which argues for a specific ingredient in learning arithmetic with understanding. For his distinguished career as both a research mathematician and one of our most influential mathematicians devoted to improving the teaching and learning of mathematics in the United States, Roger Howe is an outstanding selection for the 2022 Mary P. Dolciani Award.