Sean Hardesty

Computational and Applied Mathematics
Rice University
6100 Main Street - MS 134
Houston, Texas 77005-1892
tel. 713-348-3702
fax. 713-348-5318
Duncan Hall 3087


I work with Matthias Heinkenschloss on optimization of shell structure acoustics, namely optimization of the sound field radiated by vibrating elastic shell structures via modification of their geometry. This is done using shell finite elements coupled at the mid-surface to boundary elements, with derivative computation via adjoint equations. Simulation requires reliable shell FEM, and fast BEM solvers. Many interesting issues crop up in the optimization problem, including conditions for existence of optimal solutions, and methods for computation of shape derivatives. I am now working out theory and implementation for large-scale optimization problems.

While the methods have more general applicability, my interest in the problem stems from violin acoustics. This article about my work just appeared in the Rice News. This New York Times article summarizes some of the exciting developments of recent years. I have been attending the VSA's violin acoustics workshop for years. In 2008, Timothy Johnson built a violin around my 3d-printed plastic top plate. Check out the video - before and after we thinned it and added ribs.

Teaching and Talks

I am not teaching this semester. In past semesters, I have taught CAAM 335 several times.

Here are some talks I've given while at Rice:

Some older talks:


My resume (pdf).

My 944 S2

I bought it back in 2002, and I love it. The S2 has a normally aspirated 3.0L 4-cylinder engine. Mine is often in the shop. I'm working on learning to drive it now by going to track days and autocrossing and things like that. Check out the links below.


What can I say about Caltech? I graduated back in June of 2004 with a B.S. in Physics. I think I'm glad that I made it out alive, but I mostly had a great time while I was there.