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Ruth Elke Lawrence-Naimark (Hebrew: רות אלקע לורנס-נאימרק‎, born 2 August 1971) is an Associate Professor of mathematics at the Einstein Institute of Mathematics, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a researcher in knot theory and algebraic topology. Outside academia, she is best known for being a child prodigy in mathematics.

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Youth

Ruth Lawrence was born in Brighton, England. Her parents, Harry Lawrence and Sylvia Greybourne, were both computer consultants. When Ruth was five, her father gave up his job so that he could educate her at home.

Education

At the age of nine, Ruth gained an O-level in mathematics, setting a new age record, later surpassed in 2001 when Arran Fernandez successfully sat GCSE mathematics aged five. Also at the age of nine she achieved a Grade A at A-level Pure Mathematics, an age record which stood until 2009 when Zohaib Ahmed passed A level mathematics with an A grade aged just eight years old. In 1981 she passed the Oxford University interview entrance examination in mathematics, coming first out of all 530 candidates sitting the examination, and joining St Hugh's College in 1983 at the age of just twelve.

At Oxford, her father continued to be actively involved in her education, accompanying her to all lectures and tutorials. Ruth completed her bachelor's degree in two years, instead of the normal three, and graduated in 1985 at the age of 13 with a starred first and special commendation. Attracting considerable press interest, she became the youngest British person to gain a first-class degree, and the youngest to graduate from the University of Oxford in modern times.

Ruth followed her first degree with a second degree in physics in 1986 and a DPhil in mathematics at Oxford in June of 1989, at the age of 17. Her thesis title was Homology representations of braid groups and her thesis adviser was Sir Michael Atiyah.

Academic career

Her 1990 paper, Homological representations of the Hecke algebra, in Communications in Mathematical Physics, introduced, among other things, certain novel linear representations of the braid group — known as Lawrence–Krammer representation. In papers published in 2000 and 2001, Daan Krammer and Stephen Bigelow established the faithfulness of Lawrence's representation. This result goes by the slogan "braid groups are linear."

Ruth's first academic post was at Harvard University, where she became a Junior Fellow in 1990 at the age of 19. In 1993, Ruth moved to the University of Michigan, where she became an Associate Professor with tenure in 1997. In 1999 Ruth emigrated to Jerusalem and took up the post of Associate Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 1998, Ruth married the Israeli mathematician Ari Naimark and changed her name to Ruth Lawrence-Naimark. The couple have four children, Yehuda Bezalel (born 2000), Esther Miriam (born 2001), Batsheva Simcha (born 2003) and Yehoshua Aharon (born 2006).

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