Photo of James G. Glimm

James G. Glimm

  • National Medal of Science
  • Mathematics And Computer Science

For his original approaches and creative contributions to an array of disciplines in mathematical analysis and mathematical physics, which are fundamental to the theory of operator algebras, shock-wave theory, advanced quantum field theory, quantum statistical mechanics, applied mathematics, and scientific computation Also affiliated with Brookhaven National Laboratory.

James Glimm on the development of quantum field theory

An American mathematician whose career coincided with the start of the computer age and at the height of the Cold War, James G. Glimm’s work has had implications far beyond the ivory tower of academia. Glimm, who received his Ph.D in mathematics from Columbia University in 1959, played a crucial role in bringing together computation, mathematics and physics to drive progress across a range of scientific fields. Along with his seminal work on constructive quantum field theory and the “Glimm algebras” that were named after him, Glimm developed a methodology for shock wave analysis that has become integral to the United States Department of Energy’s simulation of weapons performance and the world’s understanding of earthquakes, wildfires and volcanoes. He has been a member of the faculty at institutions including New York University, Rockefeller University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and is currently a distinguished professor at Stony Brook University, where he continues to pursue methods scientific inquiry that, in Glimm’s words, have the potential to “revolutionize all of society.”

By Jeremy Gordon