Ralph Abraham (mathematician)

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Ralph Abraham
Ralph Abraham.jpg
Photo by Joan Halifax
Ralph Herman Abraham

(1936-07-04) July 4, 1936 (age 84)
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Michigan
Scientific career
Fields Mathematics
Institutions University of California, Santa Cruz
Thesis Discontinuities in General Relativity  (1960)
Doctoral advisor Nathan Coburn

Ralph Herman Abraham (born July 4, 1936) is an American mathematician. He has been a member of the faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz (where he is currently professor emeritus of mathematics) since 1968.


Life and work

Abraham earned his B.S.E. (1956), M.S. (1958) and Ph.D. (1960) from the University of Michigan. Prior to joining Santa Cruz, he held positions at the University of California, Berkeley (research lecturer in mathematics; 1960-1962), Columbia University (postdoctoral fellow and assistant professor of mathematics; 1962-1964) and Princeton University (assistant professor of mathematics; 1964-1968). He has also held visiting positions in Amsterdam, Paris, Warwick, Barcelona, Basel, and Florence.

He founded the Visual Math Institute [1] at Santa Cruz in 1975; at that time, it was called the "Visual Mathematics Project". He is editor of World Futures and for the International Journal of Bifurcations and Chaos. Abraham is a member of cultural historian William Irwin Thompson's Lindisfarne Association.

Abraham has been involved in the development of dynamical systems theory since the 1960s and 1970s. He has been a consultant on chaos theory and its applications in numerous fields, such as medical physiology, ecology, mathematical economics, psychotherapy, etc. [2]

Another interest of Abraham's concerns alternative ways of expressing mathematics, for example visually or aurally. He has staged performances in which mathematics, visual arts and music are combined into one presentation.

Abraham developed an interest in "Hip" activities in Santa Cruz in the 1960s and has a website gathering information on the topic. [3] He credits his use of the psychedelic drug DMT for "swerv[ing his] career toward a search for the connections between mathematics and the experience of the Logos". [4]



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  1. Visual Math Institute website, Vismath.org, retrieved 2012-12-25
  2. Complexity, Democracy and Sustainability The 50th Anniversary Meeting of The International Society for the Systems Sciences. Sonoma State University, 2006. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  3. "S Cruz 1960s". www.ralph-abraham.org.
  4. Sheldrake, Rupert; McKenna, Terence; Abraham, Ralph (2013-08-20). The Evolutionary Mind: Conversations on Science, Imagination & Spirit. Monkfish Book Publishing. pp. 63–. ISBN   9781939681102 . Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  5. Sternberg, Shlomo (1980). "Review: Foundations of mechanics, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged, by Ralph Abraham and Jerrold E. Marsden" (PDF). Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. New Series. 2 (2): 378–387. doi: 10.1090/S0273-0979-1980-14771-0 .
  6. companion CD-ROM by Ronald Joe Record and Ralph Abraham
  7. "Full cast and crew", DMT: The Spirit Molecule, IMDb, 2010