Not alone in among any list of top mathematicians, Fefferman was a child prodigy. He received degrees in mathematics and physics at the University of Maryland at age 17. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics at Princeton University in three years and by 22 he was full professor at the University of Chicago, the youngest full professor ever in the United States. At the ripe old age of 24, he returned to Princeton as full professor and has been there since. In 1984, he became Herbert Jones Professor of Mathematics at Princeton. Not surprisingly, the prodigy Fefferman won the Fields Medal in 1978.
Fefferman’s work in mathematics is focused primarily on partial differential equations, having unknowns that require modeling. Partial differential equations often have useful applications in computer models of complex systems, like weather forecasting and climate change. In addition to his career working out important results in partial differential equations, Fefferman has been extraordinarily prolific in diverse topics in the study of mathematics, from the mathematics involved in financial prediction, to fluid dynamics in, say, turbulent systems (i.e., chaos theory) to the study of neural networks in computer science (neural networks are an important topic in machine learning).
In addition to the Fields Medal, Fefferman won the Wolf Prize in Mathematics in 2017, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Science as well as the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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