Congratulations to Cornellian Jon Kleinberg, who recently was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called "genius award" given annually to 20-30 of the most brilliant and creative individuals in the US.
Jon was specifically recognized by the MacArthur Foundation for his contributions to network theory, explaining basic principles of navigability in both social "small world" networks and the World Wide Web.
I feel quite lucky to have rubbed shoulders with Jon. We were both studying with Eva Tardos in 1993, when I was getting my PhD research going and he was a precocious senior, both of us in the computer science department. Jon then got his PhD at MIT and is now a professor back at Cornell, where he just published a major textbook on algorithms, again with Eva.
It's very gratifying to see Jon getting such recognition. In a field where the merely smart labor through complexity, Jon's genius shines with a striking simplicity that makes the rest of us wonder, "How come I never thought of that?"
It's also very exciting to see the study of networks get this kind of attention. Could the MacArthur Foundation be riding the SNA hype curve, or are we really making some breakthroughs here? I think the latter.