Edward Witten

Edward Witten ( born August 26, 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland) is an American mathematician and physicist.

Life and work

Witten earned his bachelor 's degree in 1971 at Brandeis University, where he studied history, then went to Princeton University, where he made ​​1974 his master's degree in Physics and a doctorate in 1976. In 1976 he went as a post- doc at Harvard University, where he was from 1977 to 1980 Junior Fellow. In 1980 he became a professor at Princeton and in 1987 Charles Simonyi Professor of Mathematical Physics at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.

Edward Witten has made several important contributions to physics and mathematics. Best known are his fundamental work on string theory in the 1980s (he is with Michael Green and John Schwarz, author of the two-volume standard work superstrings of 1986) involved, but he was also instrumental in the "second superstring revolution " in the 1990s, the discovery of duality relationships between different then known superstring theories and their solutions. The list of his important work in this area is very long.

The last step to a unification of the five different superstring theories and the elfdimensionalen supergravity in the M- theory (M optionally from "Mother", "Mystery" or "The Matrix" ), he put in a 1995 lecture at the University of Southern California represents the M- theory which can not yet be tested experimentally at the time, is considered by string theorists than is currently the most promising candidate for a unifying theory that could unify quantum mechanics and general relativity.

Mathematicians impressed Witten in the 1980s with new ideas for knot invariants ( from the integration of Chern - Simons forms in the corresponding quantum field theories ) and other new topological structures arising from the transfer of ideas of quantum field theory ( topological quantum field theories and other ). The invariants of Simon K. Donaldson and Andreas Floer be reinterpreted. He was awarded in 1990 as so far only physicist the Fields Medal, the most important math prize. In particular, he examined also exactly solvable models of Yang-Mills theories with Nathan Seiberg ( Seiberg -Witten theory). In " Supersymmetry and Morse theory", he headed 1982, the Morse inequalities of the supersymmetric quantum mechanics from (these ideas led a short time later new evidence of the Atiyah-Singer index theorem ).

In 1981 he gave a simplified proof of the positivity of energy in general relativity theory (originally in 1979 by Shing-Tung Yau and Richard Schoen proved).

According XStructure Witten is the most cited by a large margin author of publications on the preprintserver ArXiv.

Witten is married to Chiara Nappi Italian physicist.


In 1982 he was MacArthur Fellow. In 1985 he was awarded the Dirac Medal ( ICTP ) and the Albert Einstein Medal; In 1990 he received the Fields Medal, the 2000 Nemmers Prize for Mathematics, the 2001 Clay Research Award and the 2004 National Medal of Science. In 2006 he received the Henri Poincaré Prize. In 2002 he gave a plenary lecture at the International Congress of Mathematicians in Beijing ( Singularities in String Theory ). In 2010 he was awarded the Lorentz Medal, and the Isaac Newton Medal. In 2012 he was awarded the Fundamental Physics Prize. He is a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society.


After Mikhail Gromov and Edward Witten, the Gromov -Witten invariant was described. The asteroid of the inner main belt ( 11349 ) Witten was named after Edward Witten on 26 July 2000.


  • Some problems in the short distance analysis of gauge theories. Princeton University, 1976. (Dissertation)
  • Michael Boris Green, John Schwarz: Super String Theory (2 volumes), Cambridge University Press, 1987 1 Introduction. Cambridge [ua ], ISBN 0-521-32384-3, ISBN 0-521-35752-7.
  • 2 Loop Amplitudes, anomalies and phenomenology. Cambridge [ua ], ISBN 0-521-32999- X, ISBN 0-521-35753-5.