At the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours, women in the mathematics and statistics sectors were recognised for their contributions to the industry.
Alison Harcourt was recognised for her outstanding contributions to research and Australian social and electoral policy. Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute (AMSI) Director, Professor Tim Brown said the recognition reflected the discipline’s cross-discipline impact on education, research and innovation. “Alison’s work is a powerful example of the capacity of mathematics and statistics to transform Australian research, innovation, policy development and society,” he said.
Still working as a tutor at the University of Melbourne, Harcourt (nee Doig) co-defined the branch and bound algorithm with Ailsa Land in the 1960s. The ground-breaking integer linear programming technique is still widely used today. The 89-year old is also known for her work as a statistician, including contributions to the Henderson Poverty Line and the amendment of the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1984 to introduce the double randomisation method.
A career of extraordinary achievement, Professor Brown said the legacy of Harcourt’s work would continue to be felt well into the future. “Alison’s contributions will continue to impact global mathematics and Australia’s social and political systems for generations,” he said.
Other friends of AMSI who were honoured include Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons, who was honoured for distinguished service to science education as a leader in quantum and atomic electronics, Ms Kathryn Joy Fagg who was recognised for her contributions to business, finance, central banking, logistics, manufacturing and women, Ms Marita Cheng, who was recognised for her significant service to science, technology and robotics, Professor Gilah Chaja Leder, who was honoured for significant service to higher education and to the Jewish community of Victoria, and Professor Arun Kumar Sharma, the Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Technology.