Martin Gutzwiller

Last updated
Martin C. Gutzwiller
Born(1925-10-12)October 12, 1925 [1]
DiedMarch 3, 2014(2014-03-03) (aged 88)
Alma mater ETH Zurich, [1]
Kansas University
Known forGutzwiller approximation
Gutzwiller trace formula
Hadamard–Gutzwiller model
Awards Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics (1993)
Max Planck Medal (2003)
Scientific career
Fields Quantum chaos, Complex Systems
Institutions IBM, Columbia University, Yale University
Doctoral advisor Max Dresden  [ de ]

Martin Charles Gutzwiller (12 October 1925 – 3 March 2014 [2] ) was a Swiss-American physicist, known for his work on field theory, quantum chaos, and complex systems. He spent most of his career at IBM Research, and was also an adjunct professor of physics at Yale University.



Gutzwiller was born on October 12, 1925 in the Swiss city of Basel. He completed a Diploma degree from ETH Zurich, where he studied quantum physics under Wolfgang Pauli. He then went to the University of Kansas and completed a Ph.D under Max Dresden. After graduation, he worked on microwave engineering for Brown, Boveri & Cie, on geophysics for Shell Oil, and eventually for IBM Research in Switzerland, New York City, and Yorktown Heights, until his retirement in 1993. He also held temporary teaching appointments at Columbia University, ETH Zurich, Paris-Orsay, and Stockholm. He was Vice Chair for the Committee on Mathematical Physics, of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, from 1987 to 1993. He joined Yale University as adjunct professor in 1993, retaining the position until his retirement. [1]

Scientific work

Gutzwiller formulated the Gutzwiller approximation for describing electrons with strong local interactions in terms of the Gutzwiller wave function, composed of a simple many-electron wave function acted on by a correlation operator ("Gutzwiller projection"). He was also the first to investigate the relationship between classical and quantum mechanics in chaotic systems. In that context, he developed the Gutzwiller trace formula, the main result of periodic orbit theory, which gives a recipe for computing spectra from periodic orbits of a system. He is the author of the classic monograph on the subject, Chaos in Classical and Quantum Mechanics (1990).

Gutzwiller is also known for finding novel solutions to mathematical problems in field theory, wave propagation, crystal physics, and celestial mechanics. In appreciation of his contributions to theoretical physics, the Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems (MPIPKS) annually awards the Martin Gutzwiller Fellowship to acknowledge and promote exceptional research in this field. [3]

Book collecting

Gutzwiller had an avid interest in the history of science. He eventually acquired a valuable collection of rare books on astronomy and mechanics. Shortly after his death, his collection was auctioned at Swann Galleries, in New York City. The auction took place on April 3, 2014 and raised a total of US$341,788. [4]


Related Research Articles

The Copenhagen interpretation is a collection of views about the meaning of quantum mechanics principally attributed to Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg. It is one of the oldest of numerous proposed interpretations of quantum mechanics, as features of it date to the development of quantum mechanics during 1925–1927, and it remains one of the most commonly taught.

Physics Study of the fundamental properties of matter and energy

Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its motion and behavior through space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. Physics is one of the most fundamental scientific disciplines, and its main goal is to understand how the universe behaves.

Quantum mechanics Branch of physics describing nature on an atomic scale

Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. It is the foundation of all quantum physics including quantum chemistry, quantum field theory, quantum technology, and quantum information science.

Wave–particle duality is the concept in quantum mechanics that every particle or quantum entity may be described as either a particle or a wave. It expresses the inability of the classical concepts "particle" or "wave" to fully describe the behaviour of quantum-scale objects. As Albert Einstein wrote:

It seems as though we must use sometimes the one theory and sometimes the other, while at times we may use either. We are faced with a new kind of difficulty. We have two contradictory pictures of reality; separately neither of them fully explains the phenomena of light, but together they do.

Louis de Broglie

Louis Victor Pierre Raymond de Broglie, 7th duc de Broglie was a French physicist and aristocrat who made groundbreaking contributions to quantum theory. In his 1924 PhD thesis, he postulated the wave nature of electrons and suggested that all matter has wave properties. This concept is known as the de Broglie hypothesis, an example of wave–particle duality, and forms a central part of the theory of quantum mechanics.

Quantum chaos Branch of physics seeking to explain chaotic dynamical systems in terms of quantum theory

Quantum chaos is a branch of physics which studies how chaotic classical dynamical systems can be described in terms of quantum theory. The primary question that quantum chaos seeks to answer is: "What is the relationship between quantum mechanics and classical chaos?" The correspondence principle states that classical mechanics is the classical limit of quantum mechanics, specifically in the limit as the ratio of Planck's constant to the action of the system tends to zero. If this is true, then there must be quantum mechanisms underlying classical chaos. If quantum mechanics does not demonstrate an exponential sensitivity to initial conditions, how can exponential sensitivity to initial conditions arise in classical chaos, which must be the correspondence principle limit of quantum mechanics?

Elliott H. Lieb American mathematical physicist

Elliott Hershel Lieb is an American mathematical physicist and professor of mathematics and physics at Princeton University who specializes in statistical mechanics, condensed matter theory, and functional analysis.

Quantum mechanics is the study of very small things. It explains the behavior of matter and its interactions with energy on the scale of atomic and subatomic particles. By contrast, classical physics explains matter and energy only on a scale familiar to human experience, including the behavior of astronomical bodies such as the Moon. Classical physics is still used in much of modern science and technology. However, towards the end of the 19th century, scientists discovered phenomena in both the large (macro) and the small (micro) worlds that classical physics could not explain. The desire to resolve inconsistencies between observed phenomena and classical theory led to two major revolutions in physics that created a shift in the original scientific paradigm: the theory of relativity and the development of quantum mechanics. This article describes how physicists discovered the limitations of classical physics and developed the main concepts of the quantum theory that replaced it in the early decades of the 20th century. It describes these concepts in roughly the order in which they were first discovered. For a more complete history of the subject, see History of quantum mechanics.

Roy J. Glauber

Roy Jay Glauber was an American theoretical physicist. He was the Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics at Harvard University and Adjunct Professor of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona. Born in New York City, he was awarded one half of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics "for his contribution to the quantum theory of optical coherence", with the other half shared by John L. Hall and Theodor W. Hänsch. In this work, published in 1963, he created a model for photodetection and explained the fundamental characteristics of different types of light, such as laser light and light from light bulbs. His theories are widely used in the field of quantum optics. In statistical physics he pioneered the study of the dynamics of first-order phase transitions, since he first defined and investigated the stochastic dynamics of an Ising model in a largely influential paper published in 1963. He served on the National Advisory Board of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the research arms of Council for a Livable World.

Barry Simon American mathematician

Barry Martin Simon is an American mathematical physicist and the IBM Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Caltech, known for his prolific contributions in spectral theory, functional analysis, and nonrelativistic quantum mechanics, including the connections to atomic and molecular physics. He has authored more than 400 publications on mathematics and physics.

David Ruelle Belgian-French mathematical physicist

David Pierre Ruelle is a Belgian-French mathematical physicist. He has worked on statistical physics and dynamical systems. With Floris Takens, Ruelle coined the term strange attractor, and developed a new theory of turbulence.

Ahmet Turgay Uzer is a Turkish-born American theoretical physicist.

Ludvig Faddeev

Ludvig Dmitrievich Faddeev was a Soviet and Russian theoretical physicist and mathematician. He is known for the discovery of the Faddeev equations in the theory of the quantum mechanical three-body problem and for the development of path integral methods in the quantization of non-abelian gauge field theories, including the introduction of Faddeev–Popov ghosts. He led the Leningrad School, in which he along with many of his students developed the quantum inverse scattering method for studying quantum integrable systems in one space and one time dimension. This work led to the invention of quantum groups by Drinfeld and Jimbo.

Giorgio Parisi Italian physicist

Giorgio Parisi is an Italian theoretical physicist, whose research has focused on quantum field theory, statistical mechanics and complex systems. His best known contributions are the QCD evolution equations for parton densities, obtained with Guido Altarelli, known as the Altarelli-Parisi or DGLAP equations, the exact solution of the Sherrington-Kirkpatrick model of spin glasses, the Kardar–Parisi–Zhang equation describing dynamic scaling of growing interfaces, and the study of whirling flocks of birds.

The history of quantum mechanics is a fundamental part of the history of modern physics. Quantum mechanics' history, as it interlaces with the history of quantum chemistry, began essentially with a number of different scientific discoveries: the 1838 discovery of cathode rays by Michael Faraday; the 1859–60 winter statement of the black-body radiation problem by Gustav Kirchhoff; the 1877 suggestion by Ludwig Boltzmann that the energy states of a physical system could be discrete; the discovery of the photoelectric effect by Heinrich Hertz in 1887; and the 1900 quantum hypothesis by Max Planck that any energy-radiating atomic system can theoretically be divided into a number of discrete "energy elements" ε such that each of these energy elements is proportional to the frequency ν with which each of them individually radiate energy, as defined by the following formula:

Daniel Zissel Freedman is an American theoretical physicist. He is an Emeritus Professor of Physics and Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and is currently a visiting professor at Stanford University. He is known for his work in supergravity. Daniel Freedman is also widely known for his contributions in the fields of computer science, cognitive psychology, literature and arts.

Tai Tsun Wu is a Chinese-born American physicist and applied physicist well known for his contributions to high-energy nuclear physics and statistical mechanics.

Lawrence Paul Horwitz is an American/Israeli physicist and mathematician who has made contributions in particle physics, statistical mechanics, mathematical physics, theory of unstable systems, classical chaos and quantum chaos, relativistic quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, general relativity, representations of quantum theory on hypercomplex Hilbert modules, group theory and functional analysis and stochastic theories of irreversible quantum evolution.

Jürg Fröhlich

Jürg Martin Fröhlich is a Swiss mathematician and theoretical physicist. In 2020, he was honoured to be an international member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Jürgen Renn is a German historian of science, and since 1994 Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.


  1. 1 2 3 4 "Array of Contemporary American Physicists". Archived from the original on 11 October 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  2. Directory entry, National Academy of Sciences
  3. "Martin Gutzwiller Fellowship" . Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  4. Auction Report Archived 2014-05-19 at the Wayback Machine , Americana Exchange
  5. "1993 Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics Recipient" . Retrieved 1 March 2012.