Erik Demaine

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Erik D. Demaine
Erik Demaine 2005.jpg
Born (1981-02-28) February 28, 1981 (age 36)
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Residence Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality Canadian and American
Institutions Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Alma mater Dalhousie University
University of Waterloo
Thesis Folding and Unfolding (2001)
Doctoral advisor
Doctoral students
Notable awards MacArthur Fellow (2003), Nerode Prize (2015)

Erik D. Demaine (born February 28, 1981) is a professor of Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former child prodigy.

Early life and education[edit]

Demaine was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to the artist sculptor Martin L. Demaine and Judy Anderson. Demaine was a child prodigy;[1] at age 7, he spent time traveling North America with his father, and he was home-schooled until entering college at the age of 12.[2][3]

Demaine studied at Dalhousie University in Canada, completed his bachelor's degree at 14 years old, and completed his PhD at University of Waterloo when he was 20 years old.[4][5]

Professional accomplishments[edit]

Erik Demaine (left), Martin Demaine (center), and Bill Spight (right) watch John Horton Conway demonstrate a card trick (June 2005)

Demaine's PhD dissertation, a seminal work in the field of computational origami, was completed at the University of Waterloo.[6] This work was awarded the Canadian Governor General's Gold Medal from the University of Waterloo and the NSERC Doctoral Prize (2003) for the best PhD thesis and research in Canada (one of four awards). This thesis work was largely incorporated into a book.[7]

Demaine joined the MIT faculty in 2001 at age 20, reportedly the youngest professor in the history of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,[4][8] and was promoted to full professor in 2011. Demaine is a member of the Theory of Computation group at MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Mathematical origami artwork by Erik and Martin Demaine was part of the Design and the Elastic Mind exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in 2008, and has been included in the MoMA permanent collection.[9] That same year, he was one of the featured artists in Between the Folds, an international documentary film about origami practitioners which was later broadcast on PBS television. He is on the board of directors of Gathering 4 Gardner.[10]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 2003 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called "genius award".

In 2013, Demaine received the EATCS Presburger Award for young scientists. The award citation listed accomplishments including his work on the carpenter's rule problem, hinged dissection, prefix sum data structures, competitive analysis of binary search trees, graph minors, and computational origami.[11] That same year, he was awarded a fellowship by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.[12]

With his co-authors Fedor Fomin, Mohammad T. Hajiaghayi, and Dimitrios Thilikos, he won the 2015 Nerode Prize for his work on bidimensionality, a general technique for developing both fixed-parameter tractable exact algorithms and approximation algorithms for a wide class of algorithmic problems on graphs.[13]

In 2017 he became a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery.[14]


  1. ^ Kher, Unmesh (2005-09-04). "Calculating Change: Why Origami Is Critical to New Drugs: The Folded Universe". TIME. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Barry, Ellen (2002-02-17). "Road Scholar Finds Home at MIT". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  3. ^ Nadis, Steve (2003-01-18). "Prodigy prof skipped school until he started college at 12". New Scientist. Retrieved 2013-11-10. 
  4. ^ a b Wertheim, Margaret (2005-02-15). "Origami as the Shape of Things to Come". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  5. ^ O'Brien, Danny (2005-08-19). "Commercial origami starts to take shape". Irish Times. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  6. ^ "National honour for Demaine". University of Waterloo. 2003-03-31. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  7. ^ Demaine, Erik; O'Rourke, Joseph (July 2007). Geometric Folding Algorithms: Linkages, Origami, Polyhedra. Cambridge University Press. pp. Part II. ISBN 978-0-521-85757-4. 
  8. ^ Beasley, Sandra (2006-09-22). "Knowing when to fold". American Scholar. 75 (4). 
  9. ^ Curved Origami Sculpture, Erik and Martin Demaine.
  10. ^ About Gathering 4 Gardner Foundation
  11. ^ "Presburger Award 2013". Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  12. ^ "Erik Demaine at the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Archived from the original on 30 April 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2013. 
  13. ^ Hajiaghayi Wins 2015 Nerode Prize, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies, May 8, 2015, retrieved 2015-09-03 .
  14. ^ "ACM Recognizes New Fellows", Communications of the ACM, 60 (3): 23, March 2017, doi:10.1145/3039921 .

External links[edit]