Awards & Winners

Mark Kac

Date of Birth 03-August-1914
Place of Birth Kremenets
(Ukraine, Wołyń Voivodeship - II RP, Kremenets Raion)
Nationality United States of America
Profession Mathematician
Mark Kac was a Polish mathematician. His main interest was probability theory. His question, "Can one hear the shape of a drum?" set off research into spectral theory, with the idea of understanding the extent to which the spectrum allows one to read back the geometry. Kac completed his Ph.D. in mathematics at the Polish University of Lwów in 1937 under the direction of Hugo Steinhaus. While there, he was a member of the Lwów School of Mathematics. After receiving his degree he began to look for a position abroad, and in 1938 was granted a scholarship from the Parnas Foundation which enabled him to go work in the United States. He arrived in New York City in November, 1938. With the onset of World War II, Kac was able to remain in America, while his parents and brother who remained in Poland were murdered by the Germans in the mass executions in Krzemieniec for being Jewish. From 1939 until 1961 he was at Cornell University, first as an instructor, then from 1943 as assistant professor and from 1947 as full professor. While there, he became a naturalized US citizen in 1943. In the academic year 1951–1952 Kac was on sabbatical at the Institute for Advanced Study. In 1952 Kac, with Theodore H. Berlin, introduced the spherical model of a ferromagnet and, with J. C. Ward, found an exact solution of the Ising model using a combinatorial method. In 1961 he left Cornell and went to Rockefeller University in New York City. In the early 1960s he worked with George Uhlenbeck and P. C. Hemmer on the mathematics of a van der Waals gas. After twenty years at Rockefeller University, he moved to the University of Southern California where he spent the rest of his career.

Awards by Mark Kac

Check all the awards nominated and won by Mark Kac.


Chauvenet Prize
(For his work, Can One Hear the Shape of a Drum?)


Chauvenet Prize
(For his writing Random Walk and the Theory of Brownian Motion.)