Ken Ono

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Ken Ono
Ken Ono in 2015 at the Toronto International Film Festival
Born (1968-03-20) March 20, 1968 (age 54)
Alma materUCLA
University of Chicago
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Virginia[1]
Emory University
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Pennsylvania State University
Doctoral advisorBasil Gordon
Doctoral studentsKarl Mahlburg
Robert Schneider
Other notable studentsDaniel Kane

Ken Ono (born March 20, 1968) is a Japanese-American mathematician who specializes in number theory, especially in integer partitions, modular forms, umbral moonshine, the Riemann Hypothesis and the fields of interest to Srinivasa Ramanujan. He is the Marvin Rosenblum Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia.

Early life and education[edit]

Ono was born on March 20, 1968 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.[2] He is the son of mathematician Takashi Ono, who emigrated from Japan to the United States after World War II. His older brother, immunologist and university president Santa J. Ono, was born while Takashi Ono was in Canada working at the University of British Columbia, but by the time Ken Ono was born the family had returned to the US for a position at the University of Pennsylvania.[3] In the 1980s, Ono attended Towson High School, but he dropped out. He later enrolled at the University of Chicago without a high school diploma. There he raced bicycles, and he was a member of the PepsiMiyata Cycling Team.[citation needed]

He received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1989, where he was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity.[2] He earned his PhD in 1993 at UCLA where his advisor was Basil Gordon.[4][2] Initially he planned to study medicine, but later switched to mathematics. He attributes his interest in mathematics to his father.[5]


Ono worked as an instructor at Woodbury University from 1991 to 1993, as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Georgia from 1993 to 1994, and as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1994 to 1995.[2] He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study from 1995 to 1997.[2]

Ono worked at Pennsylvania State University from 1997 to 2000 as an assistant professor and then as the Louis A. Martarano Professor of Mathematics.[2] He moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison as an associate professor in 1999, and later became the Solle P. and Margaret Manasse Professor of Letters and Science from 2004 to 2011 and as the Hilldale Professor of Mathematics from 2008 to 2011.[2] He has been the Candler Professor of Mathematics at Emory University since 2010.[2] In 2019, Ono became the Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics at the University of Virginia.[6][2] He is serving as the chairman of the Department of Mathematics at the University of Virginia from 2021 to 2026.[2]

Ono was the Vice President of the American Mathematical Society from 2018 to 2021.[2] He is serving as the section chair for mathematics at the American Association for the Advancement of Science from 2020 to 2023.[2]


Integer partitions[edit]

In 2000, Ono derived a theory of Ramanujan congruences for the partition function with all prime moduli greater than 3. His paper was published in the Annals of Mathematics.[7]

In a joint work with Jan Bruinier, Ono discovered a finite algebraic formula for computing partition numbers.[8]

A framework for the Rogers–Ramanujan identities[edit]

In 2014, a joint paper by Michael J. Griffin, Ono, and S. Ole Warnaar provided a framework for the Rogers–Ramanujan identities and their arithmetic properties, solving a long-standing mystery stemming from the work of Ramanujan.[9] The findings yield new formulas for algebraic numbers. Their work was ranked 15th among the top 100 stories of 2014 in science by Discover magazine.[10]

Proof of the umbral moonshine conjecture[edit]

In a joint paper co-authored with John Duncan and Michael Griffin, Ono helped prove the umbral moonshine conjecture.[11] This conjecture was formulated by Miranda Cheng, John Duncan, and Jeff Harvey, and is a generalization of the monstrous moonshine conjecture proved by Richard Borcherds.[11]

Work on the Riemann Hypothesis[edit]

In May 2019, Ono published a joint paper (co-authored with Don Zagier and two former students) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on the Riemann Hypothesis. Their work proves a large portion of the Jensen-Polya criterion for the Riemann Hypothesis.[12] However, the Riemann Hypothesis remains unsolved. Their work also establishes the Gaussian Unitary Ensemble random matrix condition in derivative aspect for the derivatives of the Riemann Xi function.[13]

Advising National Champion and Olympic Swimmers[edit]

Since 2016, Ono has been using mathematical analysis and modeling to advise elite competitive swimmers including 2020 Tokyo Olympic medalists Kate Douglass, Cate DeLoof, Paige Madden, Alex Walsh, Emma Weyant and Andrew Wilson.[14][15][16][17][18]

Media work[edit]

He was an Associate Producer and the mathematical consultant for the movie The Man Who Knew Infinity, which starred Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel, based on Ramanujan's biography written by Robert Kanigel.[19]

He featured in a 2022 Super Bowl commercial for Miller Lite beer.[20] He is on the Board of Directors of the Infinity Arts Foundation.[21]

Personal life[edit]

From 2012 to 2014, Ono has competed in World Triathlon Cross Championships events while representing the United States.[22]

Honors and awards[edit]

Editorial boards[edit]

Ono is on the editorial board of several journals:[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fall 2019, Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics:
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Vitae" (PDF). Ken Ono. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  3. ^ Bach, John (April 2013), "Getting to know Ono", UC Magazine
  4. ^ Ken Ono at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ Saikia, Manjil (23 February 2015). "In conversation with Prof. Ken Ono: Gonit Sora". Gonit Sora. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  6. ^ Fall 2019, Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics:[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ Peterson, Ivars. "Power in partitions". Science News.
  8. ^ Kavassalis, Sarah. "Finite formula found for partition numbers". The Language of Bad Physics. Archived from the original on 18 February 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
  9. ^ Griffin, Michael J.; Ono, Ken; Warnaar, S. Ole (2014). "A framework of Rogers–Ramanujan identities and their arithmetic properties". Duke Mathematical Journal. 165 (8). arXiv:1401.7718. doi:10.1215/00127094-3449994. S2CID 119616304.
  10. ^ "Mother lode of mathematical identities discovered, Discover".
  11. ^ a b Duncan, John; Griffin, Michael J.; Ono, Ken (2015). "Proof of the Umbral Moonshine Conjecture". Research in the Mathematical Sciences. 2. arXiv:1503.01472. doi:10.1186/s40687-015-0044-7. S2CID 43589605.
  12. ^ Griffin, Michael J.; Ono, Ken; Rolen, Larry; Zagier, Don (2019). "Jensen polynomials for the Riemann zeta function and other sequences". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 116 (23): 11103–11110. arXiv:1902.07321. doi:10.1073/pnas.1902572116. PMC 6561287. PMID 31113886.
  13. ^ Bombieri, Enrico (2019). "New progress on the zeta function: From old conjectures to a major breakthrough". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 116 (23): 11085–11086. doi:10.1073/pnas.1906804116. PMC 6561272. PMID 31123152.
  14. ^ - Emory news, 11 January 2018
  15. ^ - Atlanta Journal Constitution, 25 June 2021
  16. ^ - University of Virginia news, 5 January 2022
  17. ^ - National Public Radio, 12 March 2022
  18. ^ - Swim Swam magazine, 10 August 2022
  19. ^ Saikia, Manjil (23 February 2015). "In conversation with Prof. Ken Ono: Gonit Sora". Gonit Sora. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  20. ^ "Miller 64 reacts to Bud Light's new 80-calorie beer in new ad". Adweek. 8 February 2022.
  21. ^ "Infinity Arts Foundation". 29 May 2022.
  22. ^ "Athlete Profile:Ken Ono". World Triathlon Championship Series. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  23. ^ Penn State news, retrieved 2022-05-29.
  24. ^ - IAS biography. retrieved 2022-05-29.
  25. ^ David and Lucile Packard Foundation website, retrieved 2022-05-29.
  26. ^ - Penn State news, retrieved 2022-05-29.
  27. ^ - John S. Guggenheim Foundation website, retrieved 2022-05-29.
  28. ^ - NSF press release, retrieved 2022-05-29.
  29. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-03-20.

External links[edit]