UCIAA Edward Thorp, winner of the Extraordinarius award from the UC Irvine Alumni Association helped to found the mathematics department and funded an endowment to attract top professors. Download image

Mathematician garners UCI alumni group’s Extraordinarius award

Edward Thorp among 18 to be honored at Lauds & Laurels event in May

Irvine, Calif., Feb. 28, 2013 – Edward Thorp has gambled in life – and won. But it wasn’t luck that brought him success. It was his keen understanding of mathematics, probability and statistics.

A former UC Irvine mathematics professor, Thorp is widely known for his research that led to a famous card-counting strategy for winning at blackjack. He also co-created the world’s first wearable computer, designed to improve the odds of winning in roulette. In 1969, Thorp launched the first market-neutral hedge fund, which evolved into one of the most successful in the country, and he now runs his own investment company in Newport Beach.

Thorp is this year’s recipient of the UC Irvine Alumni Association’s highest Lauds & Laurels honor, the Extraordinarius award. On Thursday, May 16, he and 17 other distinguished Anteaters will be feted for their outstanding contributions to the university and their communities. The event, sponsored by the UCIAA, will be held in the Student Center’s Pacific Ballroom.

Thorp founded the university’s Department of Mathematics, and he and his late wife, Vivian, funded an endowment to attract talented mathematicians to UC Irvine. An investment strategy that Thorp formulated could turn it into the largest endowed chair in the world.

Also among those being honored at the 43rd annual Lauds & Laurels gala is alumnus Daniel Russell, an uber-expert on how people use the Internet to conduct searches and research and to organize information. He created a popular Internet search puzzle, “A Google a Day,” which appears daily online and in The New York Times.

Since the first Lauds & Laurels event was held in 1971, the UCIAA has recognized about 800 outstanding Anteaters – alumni, students, staff and faculty.

The awards ceremony has a dual purpose: Net proceeds from table sponsorships and individual ticket sales go to the UCIAA student scholarship fund. Last year, the association granted more than $85,000 in scholarships and fellowships.

Tickets are $250, with 10-person tables available by calling 949-824-2586.

The complete list of 2013 Lauds & Laurels honorees:

Distinguished Alumni

  • Toby Weiner ’84, M.F.A. ’86, Claire Trevor School of the Arts
  • Richard Thompson ’73, School of Biological Sciences
  • Gregory Lai, MBA ’88, The Paul Merage School of Business
  • Keith Curry, Ed.D. ’11, School of Education
  • Krishna Shenoy ’90, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering
  • Georgina Dodge ’91, School of Humanities
  • Daniel Russell ’77, Ph.D., Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences
  • Karen Noblett, M.D. ’91, School of Medicine
  • Richard Cote ’76, M.D., School of Physical Sciences
  • Ted Scharf, Ph.D. ’95, School of Social Ecology
  • Janice Cimbalo ’87, ’92, School of Social Sciences

Outstanding Undergraduate Student

Pichaya Kositsawat (social sciences)

Outstanding Graduate Student

Victoria Lowerson (social ecology)

Outstanding Student-Athlete

Kevin Tillie (social sciences)

Staff Achievement

Michael Poston

Faculty Achievement

Arthur Lander, Ph.D.

Outstanding University Service

Luis Mota-Bravo, Ph.D. ’93

Extraordinarius

Edward Thorp, Ph.D.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,400 staff. Orange County’s second-largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $4.3 billion. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu.

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