1952 - 2020
A Fields medallist Sir Vaughan F. R. Jones, was to deliver a public lecture at the 8th European Congress of Mathematics.
Sir Vaughan F. R. Jones was a New Zealand-born mathematician based in the USA, renowned worldwide for his remarkable work on von Neumann algebras and knot polynomials.
He was awarded a Fields medal in 1990 for his discoveries in the mathematical study of knots – including an improvement on the Alexander polynomial (now called the Jones polynomial) – working from an unexpected direction with origins in the theory of von Neumann algebras, an area of analysis already much developed by Alain Connes. These discoveries led to the solution of a number of classical problems in knot theory, and to increased interest in low-dimensional topology.
His work on polynomial invariants of knots also had remarkable implications in the field of molecular biology, where new insight was gained into how DNA can remove the tangles that result when replication and cell division firstly duplicates the DNA and subsequently has to pull the chromosomal mass into different cells. The result represents a landmark in modern mathematics whose ramifications still remain to be fully explored.
Prof. Jones was Professor Emeritus at University of California, Berkeley, where he was on the faculty since 1985, as well as Stevenson Distinguished Professor of Mathematics at Vanderbilt University (from 2011). He was also a Distinguished Alumni Professor at the University of Auckland.
Photo: Vanderbilt News - Vanderbilt University