Three Members Receive 2022 ICTP Dirac Medal

Three IAS Members in the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences have received the 2022 ICTP Dirac Medal “for groundbreaking and mathematically rigorous contributions to the understanding of the statistical mechanics of classical and quantum physical systems.” The winners are past Members Joel Lebowitz (1980–81, 2001–02, 2006, 2013–14), David Ruelle (1962–64, 1970–71), and Elliot H. Lieb (1982, 1989).  

Honored for their work in statistical mechanics, the three physicists are noted for deepening our understanding of physical systems and for expanding mathematical knowledge in new directions. They are recognized for contributions to the proof of the stability of matter, quantum information theory, the analytic solution of two-dimensional models, analysis of chaos and turbulence, and more. 

At the Institute, the scholars have worked on many facets of statistical mechanics, including Lieb’s work on condensed matter physics and the stability of matter and atomic physics, and Lebowitz’s interest in the emergence of macroscopic behavior from the underlying microscopic dynamics of the constituents of macroscopic matter. 

The Dirac Medal, first awarded in 1985 by the International Centre for Theoretical Physicists (ICTP), is named after frequent IAS Member and legendary physicist Paul Dirac, who visited the Institute almost every decade from the 1930s to his death in 1984. Recipients of the medal represent his belief that applying rigorous mathematics to physical systems is the best way to understand their properties.