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Vaughan Jones

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Sir Vaughan Jones
Jones in 2007
Vaughan Frederick Randal Jones

(1952-12-31)31 December 1952
Gisborne, New Zealand
Died6 September 2020(2020-09-06) (aged 67)
Alma materUniversity of Geneva
University of Auckland
Known forJones polynomial
Aharonov–Jones–Landau algorithm
SpouseMartha Myers
AwardsFields Medal (1990)
Scientific career
FieldsVon Neumann algebras, knot polynomials, conformal field theory
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Berkeley
Vanderbilt University
University of California, Los Angeles
University of Pennsylvania
Doctoral advisorAndré Haefliger

Sir Vaughan Frederick Randal Jones KNZM FRS FRSNZ FAA (31 December 1952 – 6 September 2020) was a New Zealand mathematician known for his work on von Neumann algebras and knot polynomials. He was awarded a Fields Medal in 1990.

Early life[edit]

Jones was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, on 31 December 1952.[1] He was brought up in Cambridge, New Zealand, where he attended St Peter's School. He subsequently transferred to Auckland Grammar School after winning the Gillies Scholarship,[2] and graduated in 1969 from Auckland Grammar.[3] He went on to complete his undergraduate studies at the University of Auckland, obtaining a BSc in 1972 and an MSc in 1973. For his graduate studies, he went to Switzerland, where he completed his PhD at the University of Geneva in 1979. His thesis, titled Actions of finite groups on the hyperfinite II1 factor, was written under the supervision of André Haefliger, and won him the Vacheron Constantin Prize.[2]


Jones moved to the United States in 1980. There, he taught at the University of California, Los Angeles (1980–1981), and the University of Pennsylvania (1981–1985), before being appointed as professor of mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley.[4][5] His work on knot polynomials, with the discovery of what is now called the Jones polynomial, was from an unexpected direction with origins in the theory of von Neumann algebras,[2] an area of analysis already much developed by Alain Connes. It led to the solution of a number of classical problems of knot theory, to increased interest in low-dimensional topology,[6] and the development of quantum topology.

Jones taught at Vanderbilt University as Stevenson Distinguished Professor of mathematics from 2011 until his death.[7] He remained Professor Emeritus at University of California, Berkeley, where he had been on the faculty from 1985 to 2011[8] and was a Distinguished Alumni Professor at the University of Auckland.[9]

Jones was made an honorary vice-president for life of the International Guild of Knot Tyers in 1992.[3] The Jones Medal, created by the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2010, is named after him.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Jones met his wife, Martha Myers, during a ski camp for foreign students while they were studying in Switzerland.[11] She was there as a Fulbright scholar,[11] and subsequently became an associate professor of medicine, health and society.[3] Together, they have three children.[2][3]

Jones died on 6 September 2020 at age 67 from health complications resulting from a severe ear infection.[12][2]

Jones was a certified barista.[13]

Honours and awards[edit]


  • Jones, Vaughan F. R. (1980). "Actions of finite groups on the hyperfinite type II1 factor". Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society. doi:10.1090/memo/0237.
  • Jones, Vaughan F. R. (1983). "Index for subfactors". Inventiones Mathematicae. 72 (1): 1–25. Bibcode:1983InMat..72....1J. doi:10.1007/BF01389127. MR 0696688. S2CID 121577421.
  • Jones, Vaughan F. R. (1985). "A polynomial invariant for knots via von Neumann algebra". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. (N.S.). 12: 103–111. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-1985-15304-2. MR 0766964.
  • Jones, Vaughan F. R. (1987). "Hecke algebra representations of braid groups and link polynomials". Annals of Mathematics. (2). 126 (2): 335–388. doi:10.2307/1971403. JSTOR 1971403. MR 0908150.
  • Goodman, Frederick M.; de la Harpe, Pierre; Jones, Vaughan F. R. (1989). Coxeter graphs and towers of algebras. Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Publications. Vol. 14. Springer-Verlag. doi:10.1007/978-1-4613-9641-3. ISBN 978-1-4613-9643-7. MR 0999799.[23]
  • Jones, Vaughan F. R. (1991). Subfactors and knots. CBMS Regional Conference Series in Mathematics. Vol. 80. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society. doi:10.1090/cbms/080. ISBN 9780821807293. MR 1134131.[24]
  • Jones, Vaughan F. R.; Sunder, Viakalathur Shankar (1997). Introduction to subfactors. London Mathematical Society Lecture Note Series. Vol. 234. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511566219. ISBN 0-521-58420-5. MR 1473221.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vaughan Jones (New Zealand mathematician)". Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 27 December 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Celebrated NZ mathematician Sir Vaughan Jones dies". The New Zealand Herald. 9 September 2020. Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Obituary: Sir Vaughan Jones". Auckland Grammar School. 8 September 2020. Archived from the original on 9 September 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  4. ^ Lambert, Max (1991). Who's Who in New Zealand, 1991 (12th ed.). Auckland: Octopus. p. 331. ISBN 9780790001302. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  5. ^ "Vaughan Jones - University of St. Andrews". Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Fields Medalist Vaughan Jones Joins the Department". Department of Mathematics. Vanderbilt University. 25 October 2011. Archived from the original on 9 September 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  7. ^ Personal web page at Vanderbilt University
  8. ^ Personal web page at Berkeley
  9. ^ "Personal web page at Auckland". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  10. ^ a b "About the Jones Medal". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Archived from the original on 9 September 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  11. ^ a b Salisbury, David (3 October 2011). "Vaughan Jones – Fields medalist brings informal style to Vanderbilt". Vanderbilt University. Archived from the original on 14 July 2020. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  12. ^ Release of Vanderbilt University, 8 September 2020.
  13. ^ Vaughan Jones: "God May or May Not Play Dice but She Sure Loves a von Neumann Algebra", retrieved 14 March 2023
  14. ^ "Fellows". Royal Society. Retrieved 5 November 2010.
  15. ^ Evans, David E. (2022). "Sir Vaughan Jones. 31 December 1952—6 September 2020". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 73: 333–356. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2021.0051. S2CID 249648564.
  16. ^ Department of Statistics (1992). The New Zealand Official Year-book. Vol. 95. Government Printer (New Zealand).
  17. ^ "J-L". Royal Society Te Apārangi. Retrieved 25 March 2024.
  18. ^ "Faculty Awards". Department of Mathematics. Vanderbilt University. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  19. ^ "Celebrating Science – Miller Reminiscences". Miller Institute. University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 8 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Queen's Birthday and Golden Jubilee honours list 2002". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 3 June 2002. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  21. ^ "Special honours list 1 August 2009". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2020.
  22. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 26 January 2013.
  23. ^ Birman, Joan S. (1991). "Review: Coxeter graphs and towers of algebras, by F. M. Goodman, P. de la Harpe, and V. F. R. Jones". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. (N.S.). 25 (1): 195–199. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-1991-16063-5.
  24. ^ Kauffman, Louis H. (1994). "Review: Subfactors and knots, by V. F. R. Jones". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. (N.S.). 31 (1): 147–154. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-1994-00509-9.

External links[edit]