Steven Strogatz

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Professor Steven Strogatz
Born Steven Henry Strogatz
(1959-08-13) August 13, 1959 (age 57)
Torrington, Connecticut, U.S.
Nationality American
Fields Mathematics
Complex systems
Applied mathematics
Chaos theory[1]
Institutions Cornell University
University of Cambridge
Princeton University
Harvard University
Boston University
Alma mater Princeton University
Trinity College, Cambridge
Harvard University
Thesis The Mathematical Structure of the Human Sleep-Wake Cycle
Doctoral advisor Richard Ernest Kronauer
Charles Czeisler[2]
Doctoral students Daniel Abrams
Samuel Arbesman
Joel Ariaratnam
Mauricio Barahona
Duncan Callaway
Lauren Childs
Michelle Girvan
Erik Martens
Seth Marvel
Tim Novikoff
Shinya Watanabe
Duncan J. Watts
Daniel Wiley
Man Kit Stephen Yeung[2]
Known for Watts and Strogatz model
Dynamical systems theory
Network theory
Influences Arthur T. Winfree
Notable awards Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Lewis Thomas Prize

Steven Henry Strogatz (/ˈstrɡæts/; born August 13, 1959) is an American mathematician and the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University.[3][4] He is known for his work on non-linear systems, including contributions to the study of synchronization in dynamical systems, for his research in a variety of areas of applied mathematics, including mathematical biology and complex network theory,[5][6][7][8][9][10][11][1][12][13] and for his outreach work in the public communication of mathematics. He has an Erdős–Bacon number of 4.


Strogatz attended high school at Loomis Chaffee from 1972–1976. After graduating from Princeton University, summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics in 1980, he was a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1980–1982, and then received a PhD[14] in applied mathematics from Harvard University in 1986 for his research on the dynamics of the human sleep-wake cycle.


After spending three years as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard and Boston University, Strogatz joined the faculty of the Department of Mathematics at MIT in 1989. His research on dynamical systems was recognized with a Presidential Young Investigator Award from the National Science Foundation in 1990. In 1994 he moved to Cornell where he is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor[15] of Applied Mathematics, as well as a Professor of Mathematics.


Early in his career, Strogatz worked on a variety of problems in mathematical biology, including the geometry of supercoiled DNA,[16] the topology of three-dimensional chemical waves,[17] and the collective behavior of biological oscillators, such as swarms of synchronously flashing fireflies.[18] In the 1990s, his work focused on nonlinear dynamics and chaos applied to physics, engineering, and biology. Several of these projects dealt with coupled oscillators, such as lasers, superconducting Josephson junctions, and crickets that chirp in unison.[19] His more recent work examines complex systems and their consequences in everyday life, such as the role of crowd synchronization in the wobbling of London’s Millennium Bridge on its opening day,[20] and the dynamics of structural balance in social systems.[21][22]

Perhaps his best-known research contribution is his 1998 Nature paper with Duncan Watts, entitled "Collective dynamics of small-world networks".[23] This paper is widely regarded as a seminal contribution to the interdisciplinary field of complex networks, whose applications reach from graph theory and statistical physics to sociology, business, epidemiology, and neuroscience. As one measure of its importance, it was the most highly cited article about networks between 1998 and 2008, and the sixth most highly cited paper in all of physics.[24]

Writing and Outreach[edit]

Strogatz's writing for the general public includes three books and frequent newspaper articles. His book Sync[10] was chosen as a Best Book of 2003 by Discover Magazine.[25] His 2009 book The Calculus of Friendship[9] was called "a genuine tearjerker"[26] and "part biography, part autobiography and part off-the-beaten-path guide to calculus".[27] His 2012 book, The Joy of x,[8] won the 2014 Euler Book Prize.[28] It grew out of his series of New York Times columns on the elements of mathematics.[29] These columns were described by the Harvard Business Review as "a model for how mathematics needs to be popularized" and as "must reads for entrepreneurs and executives who grasp that mathematics is now the lingua franca of serious business analysis.".[30] Strogatz's second New York Times series, "Me, Myself and Math" appeared in the fall of 2012.[31]

Strogatz has spoken at TED[32] and is a frequent guest on Radiolab[33] and Science Friday.[34] He also filmed a series of lectures on chaos theory for the Teaching Company’s Great Courses series.[35][36]


Strogatz is a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics,[37] the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[38] the American Physical Society,[39] and the American Mathematical Society.[40]

Strogatz has been lauded for his ability as a teacher and communicator. In 1991 he was honored with the E.M. Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, MIT's only institute-wide teaching award selected and awarded solely by students. He has also won several teaching awards from Cornell's College of Engineering, including the Tau Beta Pi Excellence in Teaching Award (2006), given to a faculty member selected by engineering students for exemplary teaching. At the national level, Strogatz received the JPBM Communications Award in 2007.[41] Presented annually, this award recognizes outstanding achievement in communicating about mathematics to nonmathematicians. The JPBM represents the American Mathematical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. In 2013 he received the AAAS Public Engagement with Science Award[42] for "his exceptional commitment to and passion for conveying the beauty and importance of mathematics to the general public."

Strogatz was selected to be the 2009 Rouse Ball Lecturer at Cambridge[43] and a MIT Mathematics 2011 Simons lecturer.[44]

In 2014 he was awarded the Euler Book Prize by The Mathematical Association of America for "The Joy of x".[45] The award citation[46] describes the book as "a masterpiece of expository writing" and remarks that it is "directed to the millions of readers who claim they never really understood what the mathematics they studied was all about, for whom math was a series of techniques to be mastered for no apparent reason." Along with Ian Stewart, Strogatz was awarded the 2015 Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science.[47]


  1. ^ a b Steven Strogatz's publications indexed by Google Scholar
  2. ^ a b Steven Strogatz at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Strogatz personal web page
  4. ^ Strogatz at Cornell
  5. ^ Strogatz, S. H. (2001). "Exploring complex networks". Nature. 410 (6825): 268–276. doi:10.1038/35065725. PMID 11258382. 
  6. ^ Mirollo, R. E.; Strogatz, S. H. (1990). "Synchronization of Pulse-Coupled Biological Oscillators". SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics. 50 (6): 1645–1662. doi:10.1137/0150098. 
  7. ^ Strogatz, S. (2000). "From Kuramoto to Crawford: Exploring the onset of synchronization in populations of coupled oscillators". Physica D: Nonlinear Phenomena. 143: 1–20. doi:10.1016/S0167-2789(00)00094-4. 
  8. ^ a b Strogatz, Steven H (2012). The Joy of x : A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity. Eamon Dolan/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 978-0547517650. 
  9. ^ a b Strogatz, Steven H (2009). The Calculus of Friendship : What a Teacher and a Student Learned About Life While Corresponding About Math. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-13493-2. OCLC 276274618. 
  10. ^ a b Strogatz, Steven (2003). Sync : The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order. Hyperion. ISBN 978-0-7868-6844-5. OCLC 50511177. 
  11. ^ Strogatz, Steven (1994). Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos : with Applications to Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and Engineering. Perseus Books. ISBN 978-0-201-54344-5. OCLC 42140115. 
  12. ^ Steven Strogatz's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  13. ^ List of publications from Microsoft Academic Search
  14. ^ Strogatz, Steven H. (1986). The Mathematical Structure of the Human Sleep-Wake Cycle. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 0-387-17176-2. 
  15. ^ Cornell news article about Schurman Professors
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  23. ^ Watts, D. J.; Strogatz, S. H. (1998). "Collective dynamics of 'small-world' networks" (PDF). Nature. 393 (6684): 440–442. doi:10.1038/30918. PMID 9623998. 
  24. ^ ScienceWatch December 2008
  25. ^ Discover's Best Books 2003
  26. ^ Bookslut book review for The Calculus of Friendship
  27. ^ American Scientist book review for The Calculus of Friendship
  28. ^ Euler Book Prize, Mathematical Association of America, retrieved 2015-08-03.
  29. ^ 2010 New York Times "Elements of Math" series
  30. ^ Harvard Business Review blog by Michael Schrage
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  35. ^ Strogatz, Steven H. (2008). Chaos. The Teaching Company. ISBN 978-1-59803-450-9. OCLC 262464884. 
  36. ^ Cornell University Press Release
  37. ^ SIAM Fellows Class of 2009
  38. ^ AAAS Fellows elected 2012
  39. ^ 2014 Fellows of American Physical Society
  40. ^ 2016 Class of the Fellows of the AMS, American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2015-11-16 .
  41. ^ JPBM award announcement
  42. ^ AAAS Public Engagement with Science Award
  43. ^
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  45. ^ Euler Book Prize
  46. ^ Citation for Euler Book Prize, pp. 22-23
  47. ^ Lewis Thomas Prize

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