Max Tegmark

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Max Tegmark
Max Tegmark.jpg
Born (1967-05-05) 5 May 1967 (age 54)
Stockholm, Sweden
Alma materRoyal Institute of Technology
UC Berkeley
Scientific career
FieldsCosmology, physics, machine learning
Future of Life Institute
Doctoral advisorJoseph Silk

Max Erik Tegmark[1] (born 5 May 1967) is a Swedish-American physicist, cosmologist and machine learning researcher. He is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the president of the Future of Life Institute. He is also a scientific director at the Foundational Questions Institute, a supporter of the effective altruism movement, and has received research grants from Elon Musk to investigate existential risk from advanced artificial intelligence.[2][3][4][5]


Early life[edit]

He was born in Sweden to Karin Tegmark and American-born professor of mathematics Harold S. Shapiro. While in high school, Tegmark and a friend created and sold a word processor written in pure machine code for the Swedish eight-bit computer ABC 80,[6] and a 3D Tetris-like game called Frac.[7]

Tegmark left Sweden in 1990 after receiving his M.Sc. in Engineering physics from the Royal Institute of Technology. (He had earned a B.A. in economics the previous year at the Stockholm School of Economics.) His first academic venture beyond Scandinavia brought him to California, where he studied physics at the University of California, Berkeley, earning his M.A. in 1992, and Ph.D. in 1994 under the supervision of Joseph Silk.[8]

He worked as an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania receiving tenure in 2003. In 2004, he joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Physics.


His research has focused on cosmology, combining theoretical work with new measurements to place constraints on cosmological models and their free parameters, often in collaboration with experimentalists. He has over 200 publications, of which nine have been cited over 500 times.[9] He has developed data analysis tools based on information theory and applied them to cosmic microwave background experiments such as COBE, QMAP, and WMAP, and to galaxy redshift surveys such as the Las Campanas Redshift Survey, the 2dF Survey and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

With Daniel Eisenstein and Wayne Hu, he introduced the idea of using baryon acoustic oscillations as a standard ruler.[10][11] With Angelica de Oliveira-Costa and Andrew Hamilton, he discovered the anomalous multipole alignment in the WMAP data sometimes referred to as the "axis of evil".[10][12] With Anthony Aguirre, he developed the cosmological interpretation of quantum mechanics. His 2000 paper on quantum decoherence of neurons[13] concluded that decoherence seems too rapid for Roger Penrose's "quantum microtubule" model of consciousness to be viable.[14] Tegmark has also formulated the "Ultimate Ensemble theory of everything", whose only postulate is that "all structures that exist mathematically exist also physically". This simple theory, with no free parameters at all, suggests that in those structures complex enough to contain self-aware substructures (SASs), these SASs will subjectively perceive themselves as existing in a physically "real" world. This idea is formalized as the mathematical universe hypothesis,[15] described in his book Our Mathematical Universe.

Tegmark was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2012 for, according to the citation, "his contributions to cosmology, including precision measurements from cosmic microwave background and galaxy clustering data, tests of inflation and gravitation theories, and the development of a new technology for low-frequency radio interferometry".[16] He was awarded the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Science's Gold Medal in 2019 for, according to the citation, "his contributions to our understanding of humanity’s place in the cosmos and the opportunities and risks associated with artificial intelligence. He has courageously tackled these existential questions in his research and, in a commendable way, succeeded in communicating the issues to a wider public."[17]

Tegmark is interviewed in the 2018 documentary on artificial intelligence Do You Trust This Computer?

He is also known for his seminal paper on the Mathematical Universe Hypothesis, in which he claims that our physical world is an abstract mathematical structure with an infinite number of initial random conditions.[18] He points to fractals as proof that the equations used to describe all possible mathematical multiverses would fit on a single T-shirt.[19]

Personal life[edit]

He married astrophysicist Angelica de Oliveira-Costa in 1997, and divorced in 2009. They have two sons.[20] On August 5, 2012, Tegmark married Meia Chita.[21][22]

In the media[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Max Tegmark Faculty page, MIT Physics Department
  2. ^ The Future of Computers is the Mind of a Toddler, Bloomberg
  3. ^ "Elon Musk:Future of Life Institute Artificial Intelligence Research Could be Crucial". Bostinno. 2015. Retrieved 21 Jun 2015.
  4. ^ "Elon Musk Donates $10M To Make Sure AI Doesn't Go The Way Of Skynet". TechCrunch. 2015. Retrieved 21 Jun 2015.
  5. ^ a b Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Effective Altruism Global (2017-06-17), Max Tegmark: Effective altruism, existential risk & existential hope, retrieved 2018-05-19
  6. ^ "buzzword free zone - home of magnus bodin". Retrieved 2020-03-03.
  7. ^ Tegmark, Max. The Mathematical Universe. p. 55.
  8. ^ "MIT Department of Physics". Retrieved 2018-02-12.
  9. ^ "INSPIRE-HEP: M Tegmark's profile". Inspire-Hep.
  10. ^ a b "Tegmark - Philosophy of Cosmology". Retrieved 2016-02-15.
  11. ^ Eisenstein, Daniel J.; Hu, Wayne; Tegmark, Max (1998). "Cosmic Complementarity: and from Combining Cosmic Microwave Background Experiments and Redshift Surveys". The Astrophysical Journal. 504 (2): L57–L60. arXiv:astro-ph/9805239. Bibcode:1998ApJ...504L..57E. doi:10.1086/311582. S2CID 8824919.
  12. ^ Tegmark, Max; de Oliveira-Costa, Angélica; Hamilton, Andrew (1 December 2003). "High resolution foreground cleaned CMB map from WMAP". Physical Review D. 68 (12): 123523. arXiv:astro-ph/0302496. Bibcode:2003PhRvD..68l3523T. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.68.123523. S2CID 17981329.
  13. ^ Tegmark, Max (1 April 2000). "The importance of quantum decoherence in brain processes". Physical Review E. 61 (4): 4194–4206. arXiv:quant-ph/9907009. Bibcode:2000PhRvE..61.4194T. doi:10.1103/PhysRevE.61.4194. PMID 11088215. S2CID 17140058.
  14. ^ Seife, Charles (4 February 2000). "Cold numbers unmake the quantum mind". Science. 287 (5454): 791. doi:10.1126/science.287.5454.791. PMID 10691548. S2CID 33761196.
  15. ^ Tegmark, Max (2008). "The Mathematical Universe". Foundations of Physics. 38 (2): 101–150. arXiv:0704.0646. Bibcode:2008FoPh...38..101T. doi:10.1007/s10701-007-9186-9. S2CID 9890455. a short version of which is available at Shut up and calculate. (in reference to David Mermin's famous quote "shut up and calculate" "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-05-15. Retrieved 2015-06-02.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ APS Archive (1990-present)
  17. ^ "Hans Dalborg, Daniel Ek, Martin Lorentzon, Lena Olving and Max Tegmark to be awarded IVA's Gold Medals".
  18. ^ Tegmark, Max (2008). "The Mathematical Universe". Foundations of Physics. 38 (2): 101–150. arXiv:0704.0646. Bibcode:2008FoPh...38..101T. doi:10.1007/s10701-007-9186-9. S2CID 9890455.
  19. ^ Butterfield, Jeremy (2014-06-17). "Our Mathematical Universe?". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ "Max Tegmark Homepage". Retrieved 2012-11-01.
  21. ^ "Welcome to Meia and Max's wedding". Retrieved 2014-01-10.
  22. ^ "Meia Chita-Tegmark". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-01-10.
  23. ^ "Max Tegmark forecasts the future". New Scientist. 18 November 2006. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
  24. ^ The Forum episode guide. BBC Radio 4. Accessed 2014-04-28.
  25. ^ The Perpetual Earth Program Archived 2014-07-14 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "The Principle (2014)".
  27. ^ "The Multiverse & You (& You & You & You...)". Sam Harris. 23 September 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-22.
  28. ^ "The Future of Intelligence)". Sam Harris. 27 August 2017. Retrieved 2017-08-27.
  29. ^ "Max Tegmark: Life 3.0". Lex Fridman. 19 April 2018. Retrieved 2020-01-19.

External links[edit]