Jim Davis, a University of Richmond professor of mathematics, has received a Fulbright Global Scholar program award.

Davis will travel to Germany and France during the last half of 2017, and to Canada during the first half of 2018, to engage members of the math community in solving problems related to coding theory and combinatorics, specifically Boolean function theory and difference sets.

“What I do is the math of communication,” Davis explains. “When you text, when you stream video, when you shop online, there’s a lot of math that balances speed, accuracy and security. These days everyone has a cell phone, but most people don’t have a window into what’s going on behind the scenes.”

“We’ve all been in a situation where we are trying to send a text or download something and can’t,” Davis said. “There have been many advances in these technology spaces in the past 10 to 15 years, and there’s a need now to further review the math and make improvements as needed. That’s what I’ll be working on with other leading experts.”

Davis’ visits are expected to spark conversations and lead to new understanding, insights and applications.

“It’s much more effective to be in the same place working face-to-face,” Davis said. “I’m thrilled that Fulbright is helping me to pursue projects with these people.”

While on sabbatical this fall, Davis will visit three cities, spending about 45 days in each location.

  • In Paderborn, Germany, he will consult with Kai-Uwe Schmidt, an expert in the Walsh Hadamard Transform applied to Boolean functions.
  • In Paris, Davis will meet with Sihem Mesnager, one of the world’s leading experts on bent functions.
  • And in Vancouver, he will meet with his long-time collaborator, Jonathan Jedwab at Simon Fraser University, an expert in difference sets.

In each location, Davis will meet with other local experts and give seminar talks and public lectures. The conversations and collaborations will result in publishable papers for scholarly mathematics journals.

Davis has taught at the University of Richmond since 1988. He has received grants from the National Security Agency, the National Science Foundation and Hewlett-Packard and has published numerous articles. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Lafayette College and masters and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.


The Fulbright program, which aims to increase mutual understanding between people of the U.S and people of other countries, is overseen by the U.S. Department of State. Grants are made possible by funds appropriated annually by Congress along with contributions from partner countries and the private sector. The Fulbright Global Scholar Award allows U.S. academics and professionals to engage in multi-country, trans-regional projects. As a truly worldwide award, U.S. scholars will be able to propose research or combined teaching/research activity in two to three countries with flexible schedule options; trips can be conducted within one academic year or spread over two consecutive years.

Math of Communication

“When you text, when you stream video, when you shop online, there’s a lot of math that balances speed, accuracy and security."

-Jim Davis, University of Richmond mathematics professor

Professor of Mathematics
Number Theory
Coding Theory