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Fellows Directory

Joseph Keller

Professor Joseph Keller ForMemRS

Foreign Member

Elected: 1986


Joseph Keller applied mathematics to address various problems in science and engineering. He was best known for his development of the geometrical theory of diffraction, which provides a basis for understanding the diffraction of rays by arbitrary bodies. This has found application in diverse fields such as acoustics, seismology and aerodynamics.

Through his research, Joseph also contributed to our understanding of biological problems, including the structure of plant growth, how blood flows and the way in which epidemics spread. In addition, he developed a method for computing eigenvalues in quantum mechanical systems.

Joseph received many accolades in recognition of his work, including the US National Medal of Science and the Wolf Prize in Mathematics. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2012. Joseph was also notable for having won two Ig Nobel Prizes — the first for calculating how to design a non-drip teapot spout, and the other for a study of the forces governing the motion of ponytails.

Professor Joseph Keller ForMemRS died on 7 September 2016.


  • Wolf Prize

    In the field of mathematics for his profound and innovative contributions, in particular to electromagnetic, optical, and acoustic wave propagation and to fluid, solid, quantum and statistical mechanics.