|Simon Kirwan Donaldson|
|Born||) 20 August 1957
|Institutions||Imperial College London
Institute for Advanced Study
University of Oxford
|Alma mater||University of Oxford
University of Cambridge
|Thesis||The Yang-Mills Equations on Kähler Manifolds (1983)|
|Doctoral advisor||Michael Atiyah
|Doctoral students||Oscar Garcia-Prada
|Known for||Topology of smooth (differentiable) four-dimensional manifolds|
|Notable awards||Junior Whitehead Prize (1985)
Fields Medal (1986)
Crafoord Prize (1994)
King Faisal International Prize (2006)
Nemmers Prize in Mathematics (2008)
Shaw Prize in Mathematics (2009)
Sir Simon Kirwan Donaldson FRS (born 20 August 1957), is an English mathematician known for his work on the topology of smooth (differentiable) four-dimensional manifolds. He is now Royal Society research professor in Pure Mathematics and President of the Institute for Mathematical Science at Imperial College London.
Donaldson's father was an electrical engineer in the physiology department at the University of Cambridge. Donaldson gained a BA degree in mathematics from Pembroke College, Cambridge in 1979, and in 1980 began postgraduate work at Worcester College, Oxford, at first under Nigel Hitchin and later under Michael Atiyah's supervision. Still a graduate student, Donaldson proved in 1982 a result that would establish his fame. He published the result in a paper Self-dual connections and the topology of smooth 4-manifolds which appeared in 1983. In the words of Atiyah, the paper "stunned the mathematical world" (Atiyah 1986).
Whereas Michael Freedman classified topological four-manifolds, Donaldson's work focused on four-manifolds admitting a differentiable structure, using instantons, a particular solution to the equations of Yang-Mills gauge theory which has its origin in quantum field theory. One of Donaldson's first results gave severe restrictions on the intersection form of a smooth four-manifold. As a consequence, a large class of the topological four-manifolds do not admit any smooth structure at all. Donaldson also derived polynomial invariants from gauge theory. These were new topological invariants sensitive to the underlying smooth structure of the four-manifold. They made it possible to deduce the existence of "exotic" smooth structures—certain topological four-manifolds could carry an infinite family of different smooth structures.
After gaining his DPhil degree from Oxford University in 1983, Donaldson was appointed a Junior Research Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, he spent the academic year 1983–84 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and returned to Oxford as Wallis Professor of Mathematics in 1985. After spending one year at Stanford University, he moved to Imperial College London in 1998.
Awards and honours
Donaldson received the Junior Whitehead Prize from the London Mathematical Society in 1985 and in the following year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and, also in 1986, he received a Fields Medal. He was, however, turned down for fellowship of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications on the grounds that he applied too soon after his doctorate. He was awarded the 1994 Crafoord Prize.
In February 2006, Donaldson was awarded the King Faisal International Prize for science for his work in pure mathematical theories linked to physics, which have helped in forming an understanding of the laws of matter at a subnuclear level.
A thread running through Donaldson's work is the application of mathematical analysis (especially the analysis of elliptic partial differential equations) to problems in geometry. The problems mainly concern 4-manifolds, complex differential geometry and symplectic geometry. The following theorems rank among his most striking achievements:
- The diagonalizability theorem (Donaldson 1983a, 1983b): if the intersection form of a smooth, closed, simply connected 4-manifold is positive- or negative-definite then it is diagonalizable over the integers. (The simple connectivity hypothesis has since been shown to be unnecessary using Seiberg-Witten theory.) This result is sometimes called Donaldson's theorem.
- A smooth h-cobordism between 4-manifolds need not be trivial (Donaldson 1987a). This contrasts with the situation in higher dimensions.
- A stable holomorphic vector bundle over a non-singular projective algebraic variety admits a Hermitian–Einstein metric (Donaldson 1987b). (A second proof of this, strongly influenced by Donaldson's work, was given by Karen Uhlenbeck and Shing-Tung Yau (Uhlenbeck & Yau 1986).)
- A non-singular, projective algebraic surface can be diffeomorphic to the connected sum of two oriented 4-manifolds only if one of them has negative-definite intersection form (Donaldson 1990). This was an early application of the Donaldson invariant (or instanton invariants).
- Any compact symplectic manifold admits a symplectic Lefschetz pencil (Donaldson 1999).
Donaldson's recent work centers on a difficult problem in complex differential geometry concerning a conjectural relationship between algebro-geometric "stability" conditions for smooth projective varieties and the existence of "optimal" Kähler metrics, typically those with constant scalar curvature (see for example cscK metric). Definitive results have not yet been obtained, but substantial progress has been made (see for example Donaldson 2001).
See also Donaldson theory.
- Atiyah, M. (1986). "On the work of Simon Donaldson". Proceedings of the International Congress of Mathematicians.
- Donaldson, S. K. (1983). "An application of gauge theory to four-dimensional topology". J. Differential Geom. 18: 279–315.
- ——— (1983). "Self-dual connections and the topology of smooth 4-manifolds". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 8 (1): 81–84. doi:10.1090/S0273-0979-1983-15090-5.
- ——— (1987). "Irrationality and the h-cobordism conjecture". J. Differential Geom. 26 (1): 141–168.
- ——— (1987). "Infinite determinants, stable bundles and curvature". Duke Math. J. 54 (1): 231–247. doi:10.1215/S0012-7094-87-05414-7.
- ——— (1990). "Polynomial invariants for smooth four-manifolds". Topology 29 (3): 257–315. doi:10.1016/0040-9383(90)90001-Z.
- ——— (1999). "Lefschetz pencils on symplectic manifolds". J. Differential Geom. 53 (2): 205–236.
- ——— (2001). "Scalar curvature and projective embeddings. I". J. Differential Geom. 59 (3): 479–522.
- ——— (2011). Riemann surfaces. Oxford Graduate Texts in Mathematics 22. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-960674-0 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- ——— & Kronheimer, P. B. (1990). The geometry of four-manifolds. Oxford Mathematical Monographs. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-853553-8 [Amazon-US | Amazon-UK].
- Uhlenbeck, K. & Yau, S.-T. (1986). "On the existence of Hermitian-Yang-Mills connections in stable vector bundles". Comm. Pure Appl. Math. 39 (S, suppl.): S257–S293. doi:10.1002/cpa.3160390714.
- Biography at DeBretts
- New foreign members elected to the academy, press announcement from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2010-05-26
- The London Gazette: . 31 December 2011.
- List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2012-11-10.
- Kra, Irwin (2012). "Review: Riemann surfaces, by S. K. Donaldson". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.) 49 (3): 455–463.
- Hitchin, Nigel (1993). "Review: The geometry of four-manifolds, by S. K. Donaldson and P. B. Kronheimer". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.) 28 (2): 415–418.