2011 Distinguished Alumnni - Tracy Choka and Vaidyanathan Ramaswami

April,  2011

Tracy Choka
Tracy Choka
Vaidyanathan Ramswami
Vaidyanathan Ramaswami

Tracy Choka (B.S. Mathematics 1988) and Vaidyanathan (Ram) Ramaswami (M.S. Statistics 1976, Ph.D Statistics 1978) were selected as the 2011 Distinguished Alumni by the Actuarial Sciences Program and Department of Statistics, respectively. Choka and Ramaswami were presented with the honors at the College of Science's Distinguished Science Alumni awards program on Friday, April 8th, 2011. The awards were established in 1990 to recognize outstanding achievement by Science alumni in professional and related fields of endeavor.

Vaidyanathan Ramaswami is a major contributor to algorithmic methods in probability and their application to communications engineering. He is credited with discovering some of the fastest algorithms and recurrence relations for wide classes of Markov chains and Markov renewal models, as well as many other theoretical advances including the new class of bilateral phase type distributions, a duality theory connecting two major classes of applied probability models, a substantial generalization of the celebrated Pollachek-Kinchin formula for waiting times, and recently a novel way of analyzing stochastic fluid flow models via matrix geometric methods.

Ram has published over 60 articles on these in major journals and has also co-authored a much-cited book, Introduction to Matrix Analytic Methods in Stochastic Modeling published by SIAM and ASA. Besides these, Ram has applied his methods to many practical problems in communications engineering resulting in many patents and work incorporated into several international standards. Examples of these are his work on error monitoring algorithms for signaling links that led to improved standard for high speed signaling links and a recent characterization and analysis of WiFi hotspot traffic. A work of his on congestion control was selected as a Finalist in the INFORMS Wagner Prize contest and involves assuring access to emergency 911 services.

Ram has been featured as a keynote and invited speaker at several major international conferences, serves as an editor of Stochastic Models, and is a member of several technical and professional organizations, including IMS, INFORMS, and IISA. After many years at Bell Communications Research in which he rose to the position of Chief Scientist, Ram now works at the Department of Statistics, AT&T Labs - Research. Among the many honors he has received is his selection as the 2001 Ramanujan Memorial Lecturer at Anna University, Chennai, India, in the city of Ramanujan.

Tracy Choka joined the Actuarial Program at Lincoln Financial Group, Fort Wayne, IN, after receiving her Bachelor's in Mathematics in 1988. She has been a member of the American Academy of Actuaries since 1991 and a Fellow in the Society of Actuaries since 1992. She specializes in applying statistical analysis and methodology to the life and health reinsurance industry. Tracy has expertise in pricing, valuation, mortality/underwriting research, longevity research, trend analysis, retrocession, and insurance linked securities. She is currently Managing Director in the Products Underwriting division of Swiss Re America Holding Corporation in Fort Wayne. Since 2008, Tracy has also been a member of Swiss Re's Division Americas Management Board.

April 2011