Sir Simon Donaldson FRS

Simon Donaldson conducts research in geometry and topology. As a research student he proved what is known as the diagonalizability theorem, going on to open up a whole new area in four-dimensional geometry. His work has helped physicists to better understand theories of space–time and how matter behaves at sub-nuclear levels.

Simon’s research is marked by deep insights developed from ideas found in theoretical physics, such as his use of instantons — rooted in the Yang–Mills equations of quantum field theory — when proving the diagonalizability theorem. His work continues to have implications across the interface with physics, particularly for supersymmetry and ‘theories of everything’.

Among Simon’s many awards are the Fields Medal (1986), the Crafoord Prize in Mathematics (1994), and the King Faisal International Prize (2006). He was knighted in 2012. In 2014, he was awarded a US$3 million Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The prize celebrates scientists and promotes science as an exciting career, and Simon now serves on the selection committee.

Subject groups

  • Astronomy and physics

    Mathematical and theoretical physics

  • Mathematics

    Pure mathematics


  • Crafoord Prize

    In the field of mathematics for four-dimensional geometry.

  • Fields Medal

    Received medal primarily for his work on topology of four-manifolds, especially for showing that there is a differential structure on euclidian four-space which is different from the usual structure.

  • King Faisal International Prize

    In the field of mathematics.

  • Royal Medals

    Distinguished for his work which has revolutionized our understanding of four-dimensional geometry.

  • Shaw Prize

    For contributions to the geometry of 3 and 4 dimensions.

Sir Simon Donaldson FRS
Elected 1986