Robert Mills (physicist)

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Robert Mills
Born April 15, 1927
Englewood, New Jersey
Died October 27, 1999 (aged 72)
Known for Yang–Mills theory
Scientific career
Fields Theoretical physics, quantum field theory

Robert Laurence Mills (April 15, 1927 – October 27, 1999) was a physicist, specializing in quantum field theory, the theory of alloys, and many-body theory. While sharing an office at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in 1954, Chen Ning Yang and Mills proposed a tensor equation for what are now called Yang–Mills fields. This equation reduces to Maxwell's equations as a special case; see gauge theory.



Mills was born in Englewood, New Jersey,[1] and graduated from George School in Pennsylvania in early 1944. He studied at Columbia College from 1944 to 1948, while on leave from the Coast Guard. Mills demonstrated his mathematical ability by winning the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition in 1948, and by receiving first-class honors in the Tripos. The mathematical ability he displayed there was evident throughout his career as theoretical physicist. He earned a master's degree from Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in Physics under Norman Kroll, from Columbia University in 1955. After a year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, Mills became Professor of Physics at Ohio State University in 1956. He remained at Ohio State University until his retirement in 1995.[2]

Mills and Yang shared the 1980 Rumford Premium Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for their "development of a generalized gauge invariant field theory" in 1954.

Personal life[edit]

Mills was married to Elise Ackley in 1948. Together they had sons Edward and Jonathan, and daughters Katherine, Susan, and Dorothy. The Mills family lived for many years in Columbus, Ohio during Mills' tenure as professor at Ohio State University. The family also spent considerable time during the summer and winter breaks at their property on Echo Lake in Charleston, Vermont. Robert opted to live out his final months at their residence there.

Publications (selection)[edit]

  • Yang C. N., Mills R. L. (1954). "Conservation of Isotopic Spin and Isotopic Gauge Invariance". Phys. Rev. 96: 191–195. Bibcode:1954PhRv...96..191Y. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.96.191. 
  • Mills R. L., Yang C. N. (1966). "Treatment of Overlapping Divergences in the Photon Self-Energy Function". Prog. Theor. Phys. Sup. 37: 507. 


  1. ^ Staff. A COMMUNITY OF SCHOLARS: The Institute for Advanced Study Faculty and Members 1930-1980, p. 292. Institute for Advanced Study, 1980. Accessed November 22, 2015. "Mills, Robert L. 55-56 M(NS), Theoretical Physics Born 1927 Englewood, NJ."
  2. ^ via The New York Times. "Dr. Robert Mills, 72, Contributed to Study Of Subatomic Particles", South Florida Sun-Sentinel, October 31, 1999. Accessed November 2, 2012. "Dr. Mills, who lived in Columbus, was born on April 15, 1927, in Englewood, N.J."