Jordan Ellenberg

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Jordan Ellenberg
Jordan Ellenberg.jpg
Born (1971-10-30) October 30, 1971 (age 51)
Alma materHarvard University
AwardsGuggenheim Fellowship (2015)[1]
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Wisconsin–Madison
Doctoral advisorBarry Mazur

Jordan Stuart Ellenberg (born October 30, 1971) is an American mathematician who is a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.[2] His research involves arithmetic geometry. He is also an author of both fiction and non-fiction writing.

Early life[edit]

Ellenberg was born in Potomac, Maryland. He was a child prodigy who taught himself to read at the age of two by watching Sesame Street.[3] His mother discovered his ability one day while she was driving on the Capital Beltway when her toddler informed her: "The sign says 'Bethesda is to the right.'" In second grade, he helped his teenage babysitter with her math homework. By fourth grade, he was participating in high school competitions (such as the American Regions Mathematics League) as a member of the Montgomery County math team. And by eighth grade, he had started college-level work.

He was part of the Johns Hopkins University Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth longitudinal cohort. He scored a perfect 800 on the math portion and a 680 on the verbal portion of the SAT-I exam at the age of 12.[4] When he was in eighth grade, he took honors calculus classes at the University of Maryland; when he was a junior at Winston Churchill High School, he earned a perfect score of 1600 on the SAT; and as a high school senior, he placed second in the national Westinghouse Science Talent Search.[5] He participated in the International Mathematical Olympiads three times, winning gold medals in 1987 and 1989 (with perfect scores) and a silver medal in 1988.[6] He was also a two-time Putnam fellow (1990 and 1992) while at Harvard.[7]


In 2004, he began teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently the John D. MacArthur Professor of Mathematics, a position he has held since 2015.[8] In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society and was a plenary speaker at the 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings where he spoke on the subject of number theory and algebraic topology, the study of abstract high-dimensional shapes and the relations between them.[9][10][11] He was named a Guggenheim Fellow in 2015.[12] He was elected as one of the six A.D. White Professors-at-Large at Cornell in 2019[13] His research focuses on "the fields of number theory and algebraic geometry."[14]

In addition to his research articles, he has authored a novel, The Grasshopper King,[15] which was a finalist for the 2004 Young Lions Fiction Award;[16] the "Do the Math" column in Slate;[17] two non-fiction books, How Not to Be Wrong;[18][19][20] and Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else (2022),[21] as well as articles on mathematical topics in many newspapers and general magazines.

Ellenberg was a mathematics consultant for the 2017 film Gifted, which features a math prodigy as its protagonist;[22] he also made a cameo appearance in the film as a professor lecturing on the partition function and Ramanujan's congruences.[23] This gives him a Erdős-Bacon number of 5.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Ellenberg lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife and children.[14] He maintains a blog called Quomodocumque which means "after whatever fashion" in Latin.[25]



  • How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking (Penguin, 2014) ISBN 978-1594205224[26][27][28]
  • Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else. Description and Kirkus book review. (Penguin, 2021) ISBN 9781984879059[29][30]




Year Title Role Notes Ref
2017 Gifted Professor Credited cameo [23]


  1. ^ "John Simon Guggenheim Foundation | Jordan S. Ellenberg".
  2. ^ "Jordan S. Ellenberg".
  3. ^ Amy Goldstein (June 7, 1989). "A Sine of a True Genius; Md. Youth Wins Major Math Competition: Jordan Ellenberg". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  4. ^ Jordan Ellenberg (May 30, 2014). "The Wrong Way to Treat Child Geniuses". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 9, 2014.
  5. ^ Peter Baker (January 27, 1989). "Westinghouse Honors Three Young Scientists". Washington Post. Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  6. ^ "International Mathematical Olympiad: Jordan Ellenberg". IMO. Retrieved April 8, 2010.
  7. ^ "William Lowell Putnam Competition: 1938–2008". UNL. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
  8. ^ Ellenberg, Jordan S. "CV". University of Wisconsin at Madison. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  9. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
  10. ^ "2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings". American Mathematical Society. Mathematical Association of American. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  11. ^ Ellenberg, Jordan (January 11, 2013). How to Count with Topology (PDF) (Speech). AMS-MAA Joint Mathematics Meetings. San Diego, CA. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  12. ^ "Fellows". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  13. ^ "Six A.D. White Professors-at-Large elected".
  14. ^ a b Ellenberg, Jordan (5 March 2014). "About". Jordan Ellenberg. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  15. ^ Ellenberg, Jordan (2003). The Grasshopper King: Jordan Ellenberg: 9781566891394: Books. ISBN 1566891396.
  16. ^ Young Lions Fiction Award
  17. ^ "Do The Math". Slate Magazine.
  18. ^ How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. The Royal Institution/YouTube. June 24, 2015.
  19. ^ Jordan Ellenberg (May 29, 2014). How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. Penguin Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-698-16384-3.
  20. ^ Ellenberg, Jordan (2014). How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking: Jordan Ellenberg: 0884817006765: Books. ISBN 978-1594205224.
  21. ^ Jodan Ellenberg: Shape
  22. ^ Brown, Gretchen (April 27, 2017). "UW-Madison professor part of formula for 'Gifted'". Wisconsin Public Radio. Archived from the original on September 2, 2020. Retrieved September 2, 2020.
  23. ^ a b Jackson, Allyn (August 2017). "Ellenberg in movie 'Gifted'" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society. 64 (7): 779. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 2, 2020 – via American Mathematical Society.
  24. ^ "Jordan S. Ellenberg". Retrieved 2021-03-15.
  25. ^ Ellenberg, Jordan (2 May 2008). "Quomodocumque". Quomodocumque. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  26. ^ Bellos, Alex (June 13, 2014). "How Not to Be Wrong: The Hidden Maths of Everyday Life by Jordan Ellenberg – review". The Guardian. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  27. ^ Suri, Manil (June 13, 2014). "Book review: "How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking," by Jordan Ellenberg". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  28. ^ Lamb, Evelyn (May 31, 2014). "How Not to Be Wrong (Book Review)". Scientific American. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  29. ^ Sehgal, Parul (May 2021). "'Shape" Makes Geometry Entertaining. Really, It Does". New York Times.
  30. ^ "Review of Shape by Jordan Ellenberg". Publishers Weekly. June 10, 2021.

External links[edit]