Joseph Keller

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Joseph Bishop Keller
Born (1923-07-31) July 31, 1923 (age 90)
Paterson, New Jersey
Residence U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Mathematician
Institutions New York University
Stanford University
Alma mater New York University
Doctoral advisor Richard Courant
Doctoral students George C. Papanicolaou
Known for Geometrical Theory of Diffraction
Einstein–Brillouin–Keller method
Notable awards National Medal of Science (USA) in Mathematical, Statistical, and Computational Sciences (1988)
Wolf Prize (1997)
Nemmers Prize in Mathematics (1996)

Joseph Bishop Keller (born July 31, 1923, Paterson, New Jersey) is an American mathematician who specializes in applied mathematics. He is best known for his work on the "Geometrical Theory of Diffraction" (GTD).[1]

He obtained his PhD in 1948 from New York University under the supervision of Richard Courant. He was a Professor of Mathematics in the Courant Institute at New York University until 1979. Then he was Professor of Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University until 1993, when he became Professor Emeritus.

He has a brother who was also a mathematician, Herbert B. Keller, who has studied numerical analysis, scientific computing, bifurcation theory, path following and homotopy methods, and computational fluid dynamics. Herbert Keller was a professor at Caltech. Both brothers have contributed to the fields of electromagnetics and fluid dynamics.

He worked on the application of mathematics to problems in science and engineering, such as wave propagation. He contributed to the Einstein–Brillouin–Keller method for computing eigenvalues in quantum mechanical systems.

In 1988 he was awarded the U.S. National Medal of Science, and in 1997 he was awarded the Wolf Prize by the Israel-based Wolf Foundation. In 1996, he was awarded the Nemmers Prize in Mathematics. In 1999 he was awarded the Ig Nobel Prize for calculating how to make a teapot spout that does not drip. He also won an Ig Nobel Prize in 2012 for studying the forces which determine the motion of a human ponytail. This makes him the only person to win more than one Ig Nobel Prize. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[2]


  1. ^ Keller, J.B. (1962). "Geometrical theory of diffraction". J. Opt. Soc. Am. 52 (2): 116–130. doi:10.1364/JOSA.52.000116. 
  2. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-01-27.

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