Michael Stillman, professor of mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences, received a 2021 Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Illinois Department of Mathematics. Stillman graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in 1978 before completing his Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University in 1983.

Stillman is especially recognized for his work, begun in 1983 with David Bayer, on the Macaulay computer algebra system. Named after English mathematician Francis Sowerby Macaulay, the Macaulay system showed that it was possible to solve actual problems in algebraic geometry using Gröbner basis techniques. Stillman began work on the improved Macaulay2 system with UIUC Professor Emeritus Daniel Grayson in 1993.

Macaulay2 remains in active development and has been cited in over 2000 articles. In 2019, Stillman received the Richard D. Jenks Memorial Prize for Excellence in Software Engineering Applied to Computer Algebra for the revolutionary Macaulay and Macaulay2 computer algebra systems. Additionally, Stillman had a major impact on the understanding of the Hilbert scheme.

Stillman has been a member of the mathematics faculty at Cornell since 1987. In 2015, he was selected as a fellow of the American Mathematical Society for his work in symbolic computation.