Edward Witten

Edward Witten

name = Edward Witten

image_size = 189px
caption =
birth_date = birth date and age|1951|8|26
birth_place = flagicon|USA Baltimore, Maryland
residence =
nationality = flagicon|USA American
death_date =
death_place =
field = Theoretical physicist
erdos_number =
work_institution = Institute for Advanced Study
alma_mater = Brandeis University
doctoral_advisor = David Gross
doctoral_students =
known_for = string theory, M-theory, quantum field theory
societies =
prizes = Fields Medal (1990)
Crafoord Prize (2008)
spouse = Chiara Nappi
children =
religion =
handedness =
website =
footnotes =

Edward Witten (born August 26, 1951) is an American theoretical physicist and professor at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is one of the world's leading researchers in superstring theory. He has made extensive contributions to theoretical physics, and in 1990 he was awarded the Fields Medal for his influence on the development of mathematics. In 1995, he suggested the existence of M-theory at a conference at the University of Southern California, and used M-theory to explain a number of previously observed dualities, sparking a flurry of new research in string theory called the second superstring revolution.

Birth and education

Edward Witten was born in Baltimore, Maryland [ [http://www.jinfo.org/Fields_Mathematics.html Jewish Fields Medalists ] ] to a Jewish family, the son of Lorraine W. Witten and Louis Witten, a physicist specializing in gravitation and general relativity. He received his bachelor's degree in history (with a minor in linguistics) from Brandeis University. Witten planned to become a political journalist, and published articles in "The New Republic" and "The Nation". He worked briefly for George McGovern's presidential campaign. Then, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for one semester as an economics graduate student before dropping out. He then returned to academia, enrolling in applied mathematics at Princeton University before shifting departments and receiving a Ph.D. in physics in 1976 under David Gross, the 2004 Nobel laureate in Physics.

Academic career

After completing his PhD, he worked at Harvard University as a Junior Fellow and at Princeton as a professor. He was a Professor of Physics at Princeton University from 1980 to 1987. He also was briefly at Caltech for two years from 1999 to 2001. He is currently the Charles Simonyi Professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Research and achievements

Witten has made extensive contributions to theoretical physics, in work that has spawned a large number of highly mathematical results. He has been active primarily in quantum field theory and string theory, and in related areas of topology and geometry. His many contributions include a simplified proof of the positive energy theorem involving spinors in general relativity, his work relating supersymmetry and Morse theory, his introduction of topological quantum field theory and his related work on mirror symmetry and supersymmetric gauge theories, and his conjecture of the existence of M-theory.

Witten was awarded the Fields Medal by the International Mathematical Union in 1990, becoming the first physicist to win the prize. Sir Michael Atiyah said of Witten, "Although he is definitely a physicist, his command of mathematics is rivaled by few mathematicians... Time and again he has surprised the mathematical community by a brilliant application of physical insight leading to new and deep mathematical theorems... he has made a profound impact on contemporary mathematics. In his hands physics is once again providing a rich source of inspiration and insight in mathematics." [cite book |last=Atiyah |first=Michael |title=Michael Atiyah: Collected Works: Volume 6 |year=2005 |publisher=Oxford Science Publications |isbn=978-0198530992 |pages=209,212] One such example of his impact on pure mathematics is his framework for understanding the Jones polynomial using Chern-Simons theory. This had far reaching implications on low-dimensional topology and led to quantum invariants such as the Witten-Reshetikhin-Turaev invariants.

He is currently working on the possible relations between Gauge theories and Geometric Langlands program.

Personal life

He is married to Chiara Nappi, who is a professor of physics at Princeton University. His brother, Matt Witten, is a screenwriter and producer for several popular TV series including "L.A. Law" and "House".

Awards and honors

Witten has been honored with numerous awards, including a MacArthur Grant (1982), a Fields Medal (1990), the National Medal of Science (2002), Pythagoras Award [http://www.premiopitagora.it/index.htm] (Croton, 2005), and the Crafoord Prize (2008). Pope Benedict XVI also appointed Witten as a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (2006). He also appeared in the list of "TIME" magazine's 100 most influential people of 2004. In 2000, he was awarded the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics.


*Witten has the highest "h"-index of any living physicist;
*Witten was mentioned in a 1999 episode of the cartoon "Futurama";
*Witten was mentioned in the 2002 "Angel" episode "Supersymmetry";
*Witten was mentioned in the comic Ex Machina.
*Witten was mentioned in the American television series Numb3rs

ee also

*Gromov-Witten invariant
*Seiberg–Witten gauge theory
*Seiberg–Witten invariant
*Vafa-Witten theorem
*Weinberg-Witten theorem
*Wess-Zumino-Witten model
*Witten index


External links

* [http://www.sns.ias.edu/~witten/ Witten's web page at the Institute]
* [http://arxiv.org/find/hep-th/1/au:+Witten_E/0/1/0/all/0/1 Publications on ArXiv]
* [http://xstructure.inr.ac.ru/x-bin/search3.py?arxiv=hep-th&Title=&Author=Witten,%20Edward&view_type=themes%20tree&Key_sp=&Sort=Citation+number&time_p=-&skip=0 Witten theme tree on arxiv.org]
* [http://www.gotfuturama.com/Information/Capsules/1ACV11.txt Futurama episode information]

NAME= Witten, Edward
SHORT DESCRIPTION= Mathematical physicist
DATE OF BIRTH= August 26, 1951
PLACE OF BIRTH= Baltimore, Maryland

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