Home > Mathematician of the Week Archive Detail

<< Prev 3/31/2013 Next >>

A child prodigy, I entered college at age 11 and wrote my first scientific paper at age 15...in German!

Life as a prodigy was a whirlwind: receiving a B.A. from the University of Maryland in both physics and mathematics at age 17, a PhD from princeton University in mathematics at age 20, and a professorship at the University of Chicago at 22...making me the youngest full professor ever appointed in the United States.

Some consider my most significant mathematical achievement to be in Fourier analaysis in three dimensions (i.e. by finding correct generalisations of classical low-dimensional results, I totally revised the study of multidimensional complex analysis).

My other contributions reflect my interest in partial differential equations, other aspects of Fourier analysis (e.g. convergence, multipliers, divergence, singular integrals), Hardy spaces, mathematical physics, harmonic analysis, fluid dynamics, neural networks, geometry, mathematical finance and spectral analysis.

My brother, Robert, also is an accomplished mathematician, though now is an academic Dean.

I once described my work process: "I like to lie down on the sofa for hours at a stretch thinking intently about shapes, relationships and change - rarely about numbers as such. I explore idea after idea in my mind, discarding most. When a concept finally seems promising, I'm ready to try it out on paper. But first I get up and change the baby's diaper. ... New ideas are not easy to find. If you are lucky enough to be working on an idea which is actually right, it can take a long time before you know that it's right. Conversely, if you are going up a blind alley, it can also take a long time before you find out. You can end up saying 'Oops, I've been working for years on something wrong.' A good mathematician must have the courage to take a lot of work and throw it away."

My awards humble me: the Alan T. Waterman Award(being the first mathematician to get the award), the Fields medal for my work in mathematical analysis, the Salem Prize, the B˘cher Memorial Prize, the Bergman Prize, election to the AAAS, and current appointment as the Herbert Jones Professor at Princeton

Answer: Charles Fefferman (1949 - ?)