Photo of Dennis P. Sullivan

Dennis P. Sullivan

  • National Medal of Science
  • Mathematics And Computer Science

For his achievements in mathematics, including solving some of the most difficult problems and creating entirely new areas of activity, and for uncovering striking, unexpected connections between seemingly unrelated fields.

As a freshman in college, Dennis P. Sullivan did not pass his first semester of calculus and could not foresee that he would develop new theories that paved the way for further research and discovery in the field of complex dynamics. Currently the Albert Einstein Chair of Mathematics at the City University of New York and Graduate Center, and Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at New York State University in Stony Brook, Sullivan is best known for his groundbreaking work in differential topology, geometry, and dynamical systems, which attempt to conceptualize geometric properties and spatial relations.

Since achieving his bachelor’s degree and doctorate from Rice and Princeton universities, respectively, Sullivan successfully revived the field of complex dynamics, which for decades remained in the shadows of mathematical novelty. As co-founder of the surgery method of classifying high-dimensional manifolds and the rational homotopy theory, Sullivan developed mathematical foundations that continue to influence contemporary research.

Sullivan’s unparalleled geometric intuition has won him several prestigious awards, including the Wolf Prize for “achievements in interest of mankind and friendly relations among people,” and the King Faisal International Prize for Science.

By Jeremy Gordon