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Timothy Gowers

Timothy Gowers in 2009
Born 20 November 1963 (1963-11-20) (age 46)
Wiltshire, England
Institutions Cambridge
University College London
Alma mater Cambridge
Doctoral advisor Béla Bollobás
Doctoral students Ben Green
Tom Sanders
Mark Walters
Julia Wolf
András Zsák
Paul Smith
David Conlon
Pablo Candela
Known for Functional analysis, combinatorics
Notable awards Prize of the European Mathematical Society (1996)
Fields Medal (1998)

William Timothy Gowers FRS (born 20 November 1963, Wiltshire) is a British mathematician. He is Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Trinity College. In 1998 he received the Fields Medal for his research connecting the fields of functional analysis and combinatorics.



His initial education was at Eton College[1] where he was a King's Scholar. He completed his PhD entitled 'Symmetric Structures in Banach Spaces' at the University of Cambridge (Trinity College) in 1990 under the supervision of Béla Bollobás.


From 1991 to 1995 he was a member of the Department of Mathematics at University College London. In 1996 he received the Prize of the European Mathematical Society and in 1998 the Fields Medal for research on functional analysis and combinatorics. He utilized tools from combinatorics to prove several of Stefan Banach's conjectures on Banach spaces and constructed a Banach space with almost no symmetry, serving as a counterexample to several other conjectures.[2] With Bernard Maurey he resolved the "unconditional basis problem" in 1992, showing that not every infinite-dimensional Banach space has an infinite-dimensional subspace that admits an unconditional Schauder basis. In 1999 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society.

In addition to scholarly papers on mathematics, Gowers is also the author of several works popularizing mathematics, including the 2002 book Mathematics: A Very Short Introduction (ISBN 0192853619) which describes modern research mathematics to the layman. He was consulted about the 2005 film Proof, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Anthony Hopkins. Recently, he has been the editor for The Princeton Companion to Mathematics, a voluminous book published in 2008 that introduces and traces the development of various branches and concepts of modern mathematics.


Polymath project

In 2009, Gowers started the polymath project, using the comment functionality of his blog to produce mathematics collaboratively.[3] The initial problem considered was finding a second proof to the density version of the Hales–Jewett theorem. After 7 weeks, Gowers announced the problem was "probably solved"[4] with contributions from around 23 people. Jason Dyer's A gentle introduction to the Polymath project provides a good explanation of the work of the project for a non-mathematical audience.

Tricki is a Wikipedia-style project collecting methods of mathematical proof conceived in 2008 and launched by Gowers, Olof Sisask and Alex Frolkin in March 2009.[5] Terence Tao and Ben Green are among those to have already contributed articles.[6]

Personal life

He is the son of Caroline Maurice and composer Patrick Gowers, great-grandson of British civil servant Sir Ernest Gowers and great-great-grandson of neurologist Sir William Gowers. He has four children and plays jazz piano.[1]

Selected publications


  1. ^ a b Sleeman, Elizabeth (2003). The International Who's Who 2004. Routledge. p. 367. ISBN 1857432177.  
  2. ^ 1998 Fields Medalist William Timothy Gowers from the American Mathematical Society
  3. ^ Gowers, Timothy (2009-01-27), Is massively collaborative mathematics possible?, Gowers's Weblog,, retrieved 2009-03-30  
  4. ^ Nielsen, Michael (2009-03-20), The Polymath project: scope of participation,, retrieved 2009-03-30  
  5. ^ Gowers, Timothy (2009-04-16). "Tricki now fully live". Retrieved 2009-04-16.  
  6. ^ Tao, Terence (2009-04-16). "Tricki now live". What's new. Retrieved 2009-04-16.  

External links


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