Robert Mills (physicist)

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Robert Mills
BornApril 15, 1927
DiedOctober 27, 1999 (aged 72)
Known for Yang–Mills theory
Scientific career
Fields Theoretical physics, quantum field theory

Robert Laurence Mills (April 15, 1927 – October 27, 1999) was an American physicist, specializing in quantum field theory, the theory of alloys, and many-body theory. While sharing an office at Brookhaven National Laboratory, in 1954, Chen Ning Yang and Mills proposed a tensor equation for what are now called Yang–Mills fields (this equation reduces to Maxwell's equations as a special case; see gauge theory):

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Quantum field theory theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically represented by an infinite number of degrees of freedom

In theoretical physics, quantum field theory (QFT) is a theoretical framework that combines classical field theory, special relativity, and quantum mechanics and is used to construct physical models of subatomic particles and quasiparticles.

Alloy mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements

An alloy is a combination of metals and of a metal or another element. Alloys are defined by a metallic bonding character. An alloy may be a solid solution of metal elements or a mixture of metallic phases. Intermetallic compounds are alloys with a defined stoichiometry and crystal structure. Zintl phases are also sometimes considered alloys depending on bond types.




Mills was born in Englewood, New Jersey, [1] son of Dorothy C. and Frederick C. Mills. [2] He graduated from George School in Pennsylvania in early 1944. He studied at Columbia College from 1944 to 1948, while on leave from the Coast Guard. Mills demonstrated his mathematical ability by winning the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition in 1948, and by receiving first-class honors in the Tripos. The mathematical ability he displayed there was evident throughout his career as theoretical physicist. He earned a master's degree from Cambridge, and a Ph.D. in Physics under Norman Kroll, from Columbia University in 1955. After a year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, Mills became Professor of Physics at Ohio State University in 1956. He remained at Ohio State University until his retirement in 1995. [3]

Englewood, New Jersey City in Bergen County, New Jersey, U.S.

Englewood is a city located in Bergen County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city had a total population of 27,147, reflecting an increase of 944 (+3.6%) from the 26,203 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn increased by 1,353 (+5.4%) from the 24,850 counted in the 1990 Census.

Frederick Cecil Mills was an American economist. He was a Professor of Economics at Columbia University in Manhattan from 1919 to 1959. An expert on business cycles, he was also a researcher at the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1925 to 1953. In 1940, he served as President of the American Economic Association.

George School is a private Quaker boarding and day high school located on a rural campus near Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States. It was founded at its present site in 1893, and has grown from a single building to over 20 academic, athletic, and residential buildings. Besides the usual college preparatory courses, including an International Baccalaureate program, the school features several distinct programs deriving from its Quaker heritage. These include community service requirements, an emphasis on social justice and environmental concerns, required arts courses, and community-based decision making.

Mills and Yang shared the 1980 Rumford Premium Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for their "development of a generalized gauge invariant field theory" in 1954.

Rumford Prize

Founded in 1796, the Rumford Prize, awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is one of the oldest scientific prizes in the United States. The prize recognizes contributions by scientists to the fields of heat and light. These terms are widely interpreted; awards range from discoveries in thermodynamics to improvements in the construction of steam boilers.

American Academy of Arts and Sciences United States honorary society and center for independent policy research

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. Founded in 1780, the Academy is dedicated to honoring excellence and leadership, working across disciplines and divides, and advancing the common good.

Personal life

Mills was married to Elise Ackley in 1948. Together they had sons Edward and Jonathan, and daughters Katherine, Susan, and Dorothy. The Mills family lived for many years in Columbus, Ohio during Mills' tenure as professor at Ohio State University. The family also spent considerable time during the summer and winter breaks at their property on Echo Lake in Charleston, Vermont. Robert opted to live out his final months at their residence there.

Columbus, Ohio Capital of Ohio

Columbus is the state capital of and the most populous city in the U.S. state of Ohio. With a population of 879,170 as of 2017 estimates, it is the 14th-most populous city in the United States and one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation. This makes Columbus the third-most populous state capital in the US and the second-most populous city in the Midwest. It is the core city of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses ten counties. With a population of 2,078,725, it is Ohio's second-largest metropolitan area.

Ohio State University public research university in Columbus, Ohio, United States

The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State or OSU, is a large public research university in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and the ninth university in Ohio with the Morrill Act of 1862, the university was originally known as the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College (Mech). The college began with a focus on training students in various agricultural and mechanical disciplines but it developed into a comprehensive university under the direction of then-Governor Rutherford B. Hayes, and in 1878 the Ohio General Assembly passed a law changing the name to "The Ohio State University". It has since grown into the third-largest university campus in the United States. Along with its main campus in Columbus, Ohio State also operates regional campuses in Lima, Mansfield, Marion, Newark, and Wooster.

Charleston, Vermont Town in Vermont, United States

Charleston is a town in Orleans County, Vermont, United States. The population was 895 at the 2000 census. The town contains three unincorporated villages: Charleston, East Charleston and West Charleston.

Publications (selection)

The bibcode is a compact identifier used by several astronomical data systems to uniquely specify literature references.

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In computing, a Digital Object Identifier or DOI is a persistent identifier or handle used to identify objects uniquely, standardized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). An implementation of the Handle System, DOIs are in wide use mainly to identify academic, professional, and government information, such as journal articles, research reports and data sets, and official publications though they also have been used to identify other types of information resources, such as commercial videos.


  1. Staff. A COMMUNITY OF SCHOLARS: The Institute for Advanced Study Faculty and Members 1930-1980, p. 292. Institute for Advanced Study, 1980. Accessed November 22, 2015. "Mills, Robert L. 55-56 M(NS), Theoretical Physics Born 1927 Englewood, NJ."
  3. The New York Times . "Dr. Robert Mills, 72, Contributed to Study of Subatomic Particles", South Florida Sun-Sentinel , October 31, 1999. Accessed November 2, 2012. "Dr. Mills, who lived in Columbus, was born on April 15, 1927, in Englewood, N.J."

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