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Roman Jackiw in Budapest, 2013

Roman Wladimir Jackiw (/rˈmæn æˈkv/; born 8 November 1939) is a theoretical physicist and Dirac Medallist. Born in Lubliniec, Poland in 1939[1] to a Ukrainian family, the family later moved to Austria and Germany before settling in New York City when Jackiw was about 10.[2]



Jackiw earned his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and his PhD from Cornell University in 1966 under Hans Bethe and Kenneth Wilson. He was a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Theoretical Physics from 1969 until his retirement. He still retains his affiliation in emeritus status in 2019.[3]

Jackiw co-discovered the chiral anomaly, which is also known as the Adler–Bell–Jackiw anomaly. In 1969, he and John Stewart Bell published their explanation, which was later expanded and clarified by Stephen L. Adler, of the observed decay of a neutral pion into two photons. This decay is forbidden by a symmetry of classical electrodynamics, but Bell and Jackiw showed that this symmetry cannot be preserved at the quantum level. Their introduction of an "anomalous" term from quantum field theory required that the sum of the charges of the elementary fermions had to be zero. This work also gave important support to the color-theory of quarks.

Jackiw is also known for Jackiw–Teitelboim gravity, a theory of gravity with one dimension each of space and time that includes a dilaton field. Sometimes known as the R = T model or as JT gravity, it is used to model some aspects of near-extremal black holes.[4]

One of his sons is Stefan Jackiw, an American violinist. The other is Nicholas Jackiw, a software designer known for inventing The Geometer's Sketchpad. His daughter, Simone Ahlborn, is an educator at Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island.



  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Oral History Transcript — Dr. Roman Jackiw American Institute of Physics (5 August 2010)
  3. ^ "MIT Department of Physics Faculty". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved 2019-07-16.
  4. ^ Stanford, Douglas; Witten, Edward (2019-07-07). "JT Gravity and the Ensembles of Random Matrix Theory". arXiv:1907.03363.
  5. ^

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