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Peter David Lax

Peter Lax in Tokyo, 1969
Born 1 May 1926 (1926-05-01) (age 83)
Budapest, Hungary
Nationality United States American
Fields Mathematics
Institutions Courant Institute
Alma mater Stuyvesant High School
Courant Institute
Doctoral advisor K. O. Friedrichs
Doctoral students Alexandre Chorin
Ami Harten
James Sethian
Jeffrey Rauch
Known for Lax–Wendroff method
Lax equivalence theorem
Babuška-Lax-Milgram theorem
Lax pairs
Notable awards National Medal of Science (1986)

Wolf Prize (1987)

Norbert Wiener Prize (1975)

Abel Prize (2005)

Peter David Lax (born 1 May 1926 in Budapest, Hungary) is a mathematician working in the areas of pure and applied mathematics. He has made important contributions to integrable systems, fluid dynamics and shock waves, solitonic physics, hyperbolic conservation laws, and mathematical and scientific computing, among other fields. Lax is listed as an ISI highly cited researcher.[1]

In a 1958 paper Lax stated a conjecture about matrix representations for third order hyperbolic polynomials which remained unproven for over four decades. Interest in the "Lax conjecture" grew as mathematicians working in several different areas recognized the importance of its implications in their field, until it was finally proven to be true in 2003.[2]

Lax was born in Budapest, Hungary, and moved with his parents (Klara Kornfield and Henry Lax) to New York City in 1941, where he studied at Stuyvesant High School.[3] In 1948 he married Anneli Cahn, who also was on her way to becoming a career mathematician.

Lax holds a faculty position in the Department of Mathematics, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University.

He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1986, the Wolf Prize in 1987 and the Abel Prize in 2005.

He is an alumnus of New York University, where he received both his bachelor's degree in 1947 with Phi Beta Kappa honors and his Ph.D. in 1949 with thesis advisor Kurt O. Friedrichs.



  • Functional Analysis, Wiley-Interscience, New York (2002).
  • Linear Algebra and Its Applications, 2nd ed., Wiley-Interscience, New York (2007).
  • Hyperbolic Partial Differential Equations, American Mathematical Society/Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences (2006).
  • Scattering Theory, with R. S. Phillips, Academic Press (1989).
  • Hyperbolic Systems of Conservation Laws and the Mathematical Theory of Shock Waves, Society for Industrial Mathematics (1987).
  • Decay of Solutions of Systems of Nonlinear Hyperbolic Conservation Laws, with J. Glimm, American Mathematical Society (1970).
  • Recent Mathematical Methods in Nonlinear Wave Propagation, with G. Boillat, C. M. Dafermos, T.-P. Liu, and T. Ruggeri, Springer (1996).
  • Scattering Theory for Automorphic Functions with R. S. Phillips, Princeton Univ. Press (2001).
  • Calculus with Applications and Computing, with S. Burnstein and A. Lax, Springer-Verlag, New York (1979).
  • Recent Advances in Partial Differential Equations
  • Mathematical Aspects of Production and Distribution of Energy
  • Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations in Applied Science

See also


External links



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