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David Jonathan Gross (/ɡrs/; born February 19, 1941) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. Along with Frank Wilczek and David Politzer, he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery of asymptotic freedom. David Gross is the Chancellor’s Chair Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was formerly the KITP director and holder of their Frederick W. Gluck Chair in Theoretical Physics . He is also a faculty member in the UC Santa Barbara Physics Department and is currently affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman University in California. He is a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.[2]

David Gross
David Gross LANL.jpg
Gross in October 2007
Born David Jonathan Gross
(1941-02-19) February 19, 1941 (age 77)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Residence United States
Nationality American
Alma mater Hebrew University of Jerusalem (BSc, MSc)
University of California, Berkeley (PhD)
Known for Asymptotic freedom
Heterotic string
Gross–Neveu model
Spouse(s) Shulamith Toaff Gross (divorced; 2 children)
Jacquelyn Savani
Awards Dirac Medal (1988)
Harvey Prize (2000)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2004)
Scientific career
Fields Quantum field theory, string theory
Institutions University of California, Santa Barbara
Harvard University
Princeton University
Doctoral advisor Geoffrey Chew
Doctoral students Frank Wilczek
Edward Witten
William E. Caswell
Nikola Miljkovic
Rajesh Gopakumar
Nikita Nekrasov[1]
David Gross Clean Autograph.svg



Gross was born to a Jewish family in Washington, D.C., in February 1941. His parents were Nora (Faine) and Bertram Myron Gross (1912–1997). Gross received his bachelor's degree and master's degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, in 1962. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1966, under the supervision of Geoffrey Chew.[3]

While at Berkeley, David Gross and Jerry Finkelstein could often be seen on Telegraph Avenue in the 60s demonstrating their skills at juggling, perhaps in the tradition of Ron Graham. They used unusual objects, not balls or kittens, but more often than not small Regge poles made of a mysterious material.

He was a Junior Fellow at Harvard University, and a Professor at Princeton University until 1997, when he began serving as Princeton's Thomas Jones Professor of Mathematical Physics Emeritus. He has received many honors, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1987, the Dirac Medal in 1988 and the Harvey Prize in 2000.[3]

He has been a central figure in particle physics and string theory. In 1973, Professor Gross, working with his first graduate student, Frank Wilczek, at Princeton University, discovered asymptotic freedom—the primary feature of non-Abelian gauge theories—led Gross and Wilczek to the formulation of quantum chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear force. Asymptotic freedom is a phenomenon where the nuclear force weakens at short distances, which explains why experiments at very high energy can be understood as if nuclear particles are made of non-interacting quarks. The flip side of asymptotic freedom is that the force between quarks grows stronger as one tries to separate them. Therefore, the closer quarks are to each other, the less the strong interaction (or color charge) is between them; when quarks are in extreme proximity, the nuclear force between them is so weak that they behave almost as free particles. This is the reason why the nucleus of an atom can never be broken into its quark constituents.

QCD completed the Standard Model, which details the three basic forces of particle physics—the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the strong force. Gross was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, with Politzer and Wilczek, for this discovery. He has also made seminal contributions to the theory of Superstrings, a burgeoning enterprise that brings gravity into the quantum framework. With collaborators he originated the "Heterotic String Theory," the prime candidate for a unified theory of all the forces of nature. He continues to do research in this field at the KITP, a world center of physics.

Gross, with Jeffrey A. Harvey, Emil Martinec, and Ryan Rohm also formulated the theory of the heterotic string. The four were whimsically nicknamed the "Princeton String Quartet."[4]

In 2003, Gross was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.[5][6][7] Gross is an atheist.[6][7]

In 2015, Gross signed the Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change on the final day of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The declaration was signed by a total of 76 Nobel Laureates and handed to then-President of the French Republic, François Hollande, as part of the successful COP21 climate summit in Paris.[8]


David's first wife was Shulamith (Toaff). They have two children:

His second wife is Jacquelyn Savani. He has a stepdaughter, Miranda Savani, in Santa Barbara, California.[9] She was born in North Huntingdon, and is an assistant to the chancellor and executive chancellor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and media consultant for Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.[10]

He has two brothers:

Honors and awardsEdit

Selected publicationsEdit

Journal articles:

Technical reports:


  1. ^ David Jonathan Gross at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. ^ "Foreign Members---Academic Divisions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences". Retrieved 2016-02-09. 
  3. ^ a b "Autobiography". Retrieved 23 Apr 2013. 
  4. ^ String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (or Not). NY Times (2004-12-07)
  5. ^ "Notable Signers". Humanism and Its Aspirations. American Humanist Association. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Krauss, Lawrence Maxwell. Hiding in the Mirror: The Quest for Alternate Realities, from Plato to String Theory (by Way of Alice in Wonderland, Einstein, and the Twilight Zone). New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.
  7. ^ a b "He also said that he is a humanist".
  8. ^ "Mainau Declaration". Retrieved 2018-01-11. 
  9. ^
  10. ^

External linksEdit