Noam Elkies

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Noam Elkies
Noam Elkies.jpg
Noam Elkies in 2007
Born (1966-08-25) August 25, 1966 (age 48)
New York City
Nationality American
Fields Mathematics
Institutions Harvard University
Alma mater Columbia University,
Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Benedict Gross
Barry Mazur
Doctoral students Henry Cohn
Nathan Kaplan
Abhinav Kumar
Le Anh Vinh
Sonal Jain
David Jao
Notable awards Putnam Fellow
Levi L. Conant Prize (2004)

Noam David Elkies (born August 25, 1966) is an American mathematician and chess master.

In 1981, at age 14, Elkies was awarded a gold medal at the 22nd International Mathematical Olympiad, receiving a perfect score of 42 and becoming one of just 26 participants to attain this score,[1] and the youngest ever to do so. Elkies graduated from Stuyvesant High School in 1982[2] and went on to Columbia University, where he won the Putnam competition at the age of sixteen years and four months, making him one of the youngest Putnam Fellows in history.[3] He was a Putnam Fellow two more times during his undergraduate years. After graduating as valedictorian at age 18 with a summa cum laude in Mathematics and Music, he earned his Ph.D. at the age 20 under the supervision of Benedict Gross and Barry Mazur at Harvard University.[4]

In 1987, he proved that an elliptic curve over the rational numbers is supersingular at infinitely many primes. In 1988, he found a counterexample to Euler's sum of powers conjecture for fourth powers.[5]

His work on these and other problems won him recognition and a position as an associate professor at Harvard in 1990.[2] In 1993, he was made a full, tenured professor at the age of 26. This made him the youngest full professor in the history of Harvard, surpassing previous then-youngest professors Alan Dershowitz, Jeffrey Sachs,[6] William H. Press, and Lawrence Summers (who were each made full professors at age 28).[7]

Elkies, along with A. O. L. Atkin, extended Schoof's algorithm to create the Schoof–Elkies–Atkin algorithm. He was appointed for one of invited speakers for the 1994 ICM in Zurich.[8] In 2004 he received a Lester R. Ford Award.[9]

He is a composer and solver of chess problems (winning the 1996 World Chess Solving Championship). Elkies is active in musical composition. He has discovered many new patterns in Conway's Game of Life[10] and has studied the mathematics of still life patterns in that cellular automaton rule.[11]

Elkies also studies the connections between mathematics and music. He sits on the Advisory Board of the Journal of Mathematics and Music.[12]

Elkies is also a fellow at Harvard's Lowell House.[13]


  1. ^ Noam Elkies's results at the International Mathematical Olympiad
  2. ^ a b "Noam Elkies c.v.". Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  3. ^ Gallian, Joseph A. "The Putnam Competition from 1938–2006" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-10-31. 
  4. ^ The Mathematics Genealogy Project – Noam Elkies
  5. ^ "Mathematicians Find New Solutions To An Ancient Puzzle". 2008. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Ravi Vakil, "The Youngest Tenured Professor in Harvard History," Math Horizons, September 1998, at
  8. ^
  9. ^ Elkies, Noam (2003). "On the Sums
\sum_{k=-\infty}^\infty (4k+1)^{-n}
\! ". Amer. Math. Monthly 110: 561–573. 
  10. ^ Game of Life Status page, Jason Summers.
  11. ^ Elkies, Noam D. (1998). "Voronoi's Impact on Modern Science, Book I". Proc. Inst. Math. Nat. Acad. Sci. Ukraine, vol. 21. pp. 228–253. arXiv:math.CO/9905194. .
  12. ^ "Editorial Board of Mathematics and Music". 
  13. ^ "Lowell House: SCR". Retrieved 2009-07-27. [dead link]

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