Born in Washington, D.C., I graduated from New College with an undergraduate thesis that developed an intuitionist foundation for topology.
Working under Morris Hirsch, I received a doctorate in mathematics from the University of California-Berkeley, with a dissertation on "Foliations of Three-Manifolds which are Circle Bundles."
Over the past four decades, I have worked and taught at the Institute for Advanced Study, MIT, Princeton University, UC-Berkeley, University of California-Davis...and am now at Cornell University.
Currently, I focus on ways to bring mathematics to the general public, having served as editor for Quantum Magazine and directed The Geometry Center.
For my pioneering work in topology in 2- or 3- dimensions, I was awarded the Fields Medal to recognize the "depth and originality" of my contributions to mathematics.
My other area of research was in foliation theory, which some claim "led to a kind of exodus from the field, where advisors counselled students against going into foliation theory because (I) was 'cleaning out the subject.'"
My Erdős number is 2.
William Paul Thurston (1946 - )